Grace for Tough Times
I sat at my desk on Wednesday morning and scanned the headlines of the Summit Daily News. I
saw the article on expansion of Covid-19 vaccine sites would now include City Market and
I click through to the government website and then clicked on the link leading to City Market.
There I was asked to fill in a brief registration that included my date of birth and asked to pick a
15 minute slot that afternoon.
I was overjoyed. The shot would place me one step closer to getting on a plane and flying down
to Florida to see Mom.
I was so excited about the expansion of vaccine sites that I texted my knitting group with the
good news. A little while later my friend, Natalie, texted back that the vaccine was still only
available to those 70 years and older and by taking the shot that day would have mean skipping
ahead in line.
I’ll be honest, all I could think of was all the open vaccine appointments that I saw when I
registered and I wanted to rationalize that it would be OK if I took one of them.
But then I got up from my desk and went over to my big chair and sat down to do my daily Bible
reading. And as I read from the 11th chapter of Matthew I realized that the annoying unease I felt
in my heart was my conscience telling me that skipping the line wasn’t right.
So I called City Market’s pharmacy and canceled my appointment. Once I hung up my
conscience felt better, but honestly my very human heart was still sad and angry and frustrated.
I miss Mom so much even though we talk by phone daily. I’d hoped the vaccine rollout would
happen more quickly. But it hasn’t. In fact my 93-year-old mother still has not received her first
Next week Joe Biden will be inaugurated as our 46th president. About half the country feels
some degree of anger and frustration about that outcome. Little we can say will make the anger
and frustration that those who wanted a different outcome still feel. What we all need right now
is more of God’s grace.
The definition of grace is “unmerited favor”. Prosperity preachers say it’s akin to winning the
lottery. But I’d like to suggest a more sustaining definition taken from the words of Jesus,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke
upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your
souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
I understand now that grace is God’s extended hand of compassion in difficult circumstances.
When grace is the last thing we want to give ourselves, or our neighbor, God asks that we let him
carry that burden.
I believe we need to dedicate the coming week to prayer. Let’s ask God for an outpouring of
grace on our country. We are all weary right now. Weary of the pandemic, of economic
uncertainty, of political rancor. Our hearts are broken and mistrustful of those in authority.
Sometimes it feels as if we are pushing against the wind. Which is exactly when we need God’s
grace to lift our weary shoulders and show us the hope that is in front of us.
Let’s pray that God will give us the grace of patience and compassion toward those we disagree
with, whose political or religious views we don’t share, whose choices we don’t understand.
Let’s ask for an outpouring of God’s love on our country to heal our divisions. An outpouring of
the Holy Spirit to refresh our beleaguered souls.
Let us pray for God’s grace to see through our own pain and anger and frustration to understand
the same in our neighbor and friend. Let’s ask for the humility to extend a hand of kindness to
lift one another up.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
(Prayer of St. Francis)