It is encouraging to hear how God is at work in and through members of our church, even as we are all social distancing. Check out Stephanie Shanks’ story below.
On Wednesday night, I and about a dozen women from our church gathered over Zoom to pray. The express purpose was to lament the tragic loss of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and the racial prejudice that led to their deaths. Women with vastly different experiences and degrees of hardship joined together to offer prayers in pain, that we might have a greater trust in God. This kind of gathering was new and hard for many of us, especially through the awkwardness of a screen. Yet, by simply sitting with each other in the presence of the Lord, a gracious space was created to bring our burdens, fears, righteous anger, and longings for justice to his throne.
Following a simple outline we read Psalms and prayed in response. We thanked Jesus for being true to his Word, that he is the one who reigns, sees, comforts, restores, heals, and will one day right every wrong. We lamented the systemic racism still wreaking havoc in our nation. We lamented the reality of sin both in and around us, and prayed for repentance. We prayed that God would be a strong refuge for those who have fresh fears and anxieties stirred up. And through tears we prayed for mercy, for justice, for reconciliation.
For me, a white woman, this time was a bit uncomfortable, and it certainly didn’t “make up” for my weak prayers over this issue in the past. But being together felt incredibly important. I knew that Lord was present in our virtual gathering, and that our laments merely echoed the pain in his own heart. My sisters’ prayers provoked me to lament more often, and to engage more diligently in the long, holy work of racial reconciliation.