A Pastoral Letter to Everyone Who is Hurting
Coming to General Conference, I had no idea what would happen. Expectations at the gathering were high, but the preferred outcomes were very different among the delegates. The last thing I expected was to experience feelings like the ones I had experienced upon my brother’s death. Yet, as General Conference closed and the Council of Bishops meeting ended the next day, I recognized that I had indeed felt like this before.
Numb. Shock. Deep grief. Loss.
My role as your Bishop and my desire is to be a shepherd to everyone who is hurting. My prayer for all who are experiencing profound pain is that the healing power of God may touch your soul. This is a time to weep with those who weep. As I reflect on the outcomes that have provoked the feelings, I realize that most everyone is grieving. We grieve for different reasons, depending on our convictions. Some are grieving because of the outcome of General Conference. Others are grieving because LGBTQI people, friends, and families are hurting. Some are grieving because they feel that others are accusing them of not having love or worse. Still others suffer because there is division in the Body of Christ. The reasons for grief and pain vary widely and I cannot name them all.
Many years ago, I discovered comfort in the thirteenth Psalm. Its opening section is raw, written in the wake of prolonged distress, perhaps rooted in suffering persecution and experiencing deep grief. Here are its words:
1How long will you forget me, Lord? Forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long will I be left to my own wits,
agony filling my heart? Daily?
How long will my enemy keep defeating me?
3 Look at me!
Answer me, Lord my God!
Restore sight to my eyes!
Otherwise, I’ll sleep the sleep of death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I won!”
My foes will rejoice over my downfall.
These words portray a soul in agony. God seems far from us and we feel abandoned. There are indeed times in life when we experience distress and heartache.
When my heart needs a lift, I read this Psalm. What comes after the little word “but” rekindles faith, hope and love:
5 But I have trusted in your faithful love.
My heart will rejoice in your salvation.
6 Yes, I will sing to the Lord
because God has been good to me.
Remember, Jesus loves you, whoever you are.
Humbly praying for you,