In these or similar words ...

Dear Lord,
I’m confused. For the past four weeks, I’ve prayed with these beautiful photos, of mothers, children, landscapes, and happy people, and in my prayer I have felt love and harmony. But this week, there is only a bombed out village — such a stark picture that jars the rhythm of the others. I know you are there in the love and harmony. Are you also there in the destruction?

I almost don’t know how to pray when I look at the photo. I want to pray for the people who have lost their families and their homes, whose lives have been changed because of this. I want those people to find support from you, some impossible peace in their shattered lives.

But as I look at the photo, I wonder about those who have become so separated from you that they carry out this kind of destruction against their brothers and sisters. What is it that leads us as humans to treat each other this way? What must that be like for you, God, to watch us, the people you created, destroy each other?

I think of my own family and how I would feel if I spent a lot of time making a gift for my daughter, thinking of how it would make her happy and please her. What if she looked at it, said “thanks,” and then tossed it in the closet? What would that be like for me? Is it presumptuous to wonder what the same thing is like for you, God?

Help me this week to feel how sin is a rejection of you. Help me break through the resistance I have to look at any­thing evil. Stretch me to appreciate how sin is nothing more than ingratitude to you, who creates life and gives it purpose and meaning. I want to disdain evil the way I disdain anything that hurts me. I want to have the instinctive sense of how selfishness destroys and subverts your purpose and plan.

And when I look up at you on the cross, help me to feel, help me to sense how you embrace and take upon yourself all of this evil. How do I say “thank you” to you? Let me never take for granted how your selfless gift saves me from the destruction of sin and death.
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