Anjesh Zodge offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 18 October 2020 for our country, businesses, frontline and other workers.
My Brothers, Sisters and Friends we hope that you are well. However, if not, please let us know.
On Friday we dealt with an issue posed by one of our readers. It basically had to do with triggers or reminders of experiences that cause us to feel hurt all over again. I felt the need to say more on this as we continue to deal with the issue of forgiveness.
I have been reflecting on certain biblical examples as it relates to the issue of forgiveness. One of the things that ring home for me is the similarities in attitudes and behaviours of the people then and now. Take into consideration the people of Israel and their disobedience. They practiced idolatry which involved worshipping idols. They repented and made promises to stop but later started over again like an unending cycle. God was angry with them but kept exercising His mercy and hand of restoration.
Do you remember being told of the time when Moses went to Mount Sinai to meet with God? The people thought he was taking too long so they convinced Aaron, the priest, to make them gods for worship (Exodus 32:1, NIV). Moses had to appeal to God for favour (Exodus 32:11-14, NIV). Moses went and put an end to their festivities. Aaron’s take on the event was something else. He told Moses that the people are prone to evil. Yet he had allowed them to instruct him to make the idols (Exodus 32:19-25).What was that all about? Moses went back to God and asked “…please forgive their sins….” (Exodus 32:32, NIV). This brings us to another issue. God had forgiven the people of Israel and promised restoration on a number of occasions but there were times when He punished them (Exodus 32:35; Numbers 14:19-24).
When I think about the children of Israel’s experiences, many issues can be highlighted but forgiveness and punishment was a regular lesson. Looking at our lives, one could say that although we forgive, there are times when persons have to face the consequence of their actions. Based on their behaviour, the minds of the people of Israel seemed to have been fashioned to operate contrary to God’s instructions.
God was angry with the people of Israel at times. Moses was angry with them and frustrated. Moses was fed up with them but kept appealing to God on their behalf. God of grace, he must have been tired. I feel tired just by reading about what happened. However, Moses ended up facing the consequence of disobedience, which resulted in him not setting foot into Canaan, my goodness. It seems so unfair. Wow! Could it be that God saved Moses from himself? You know what, only God can answer that question? God also ensured that there was no public disgrace in terms of Moses’ body and bones so He buried him (Deuteronomy 34:5-7). This was very important in those times. There is one thing that kept happening. God aims at restoring relationships. God still sent a remnant into Canaan.
You know something else? As I continue to reflect, I think about the measure of punishment that we apply at times and whether or not it is in line with the act committed. Sometimes the hurt we feel may cause us to apply a measure of punishment that is unfair. It may pop the thought of whether or not we sin in our application of punishment. Persons may genuinely apologise or do an act that aims at restoring the relationship but because of the hurt and pain being experienced, we may feel like it is not enough.
There are those who faced the consequence of their action but it still does not seem enough. There are times when the punishment is death but those who hurt wanted the person to suffer for a period before death. Does this erase the hurt and pain? The reminders prick the pain and hurt us when we are not healed. It would suggest to me that regardless of what the person who committed the act does, the one who has been hurt should take certain critical actions. It has to start with a decision to forgive, and allow healing to take place through relevant interventions.
My thoughts on the people of Israel’s journey through the wilderness reminded me of Deacon Stephen. He was a tough and bold person. He went into the temple and gave a history lesson from Abraham’s time to the journey of the people of Israel and their behaviour. Stephen also spoke of Moses and what happened in the wilderness with the Israelites (Acts 7:1-50). They really got angry when he said “You stiff-necked people… you are just like your ancestors. You always resist the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 7:51, NIV). This led to the stoning of Stephen. He was spent for God to the extent that he lost his life. He not only died a martyr but died forgiving those who hurt him. Wow! What is the measure of a man?
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.Acts 7:59-60 (NIV)
Stephen must have taken his cue from Jesus whose response concerning those who hung Him on the cross was phenomenal. He asked that they be forgiven.
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals— one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.Luke 23:33-34 (NIV)
Peter denied knowing Jesus, three times as was predicted.
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.Luke 22:60-62 (NIV)
You know what Jesus did? He forgave Peter and restored him. John’s gospel tells us that Jesus restored Peter (John 21: 15-19). He experienced God’s mercy. I am reminded of Jesus’ teachings when He said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7, NIV). Let us be reminded that forgiveness is the display of a Christ-like behaviour. Let us set good examples and be found faithful.
Today’s prayer will be led by Anjesh Zodge, who is twelve years of age. He is a member of the Grace Youth Ministries (GYM).
Let us pray:
Dear righteous and almighty Father we fall before You today with many burdens on our backs. Lord, we thank You for the salvation You bestowed upon us by giving away Your only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence we ask for Your forgiveness. We ask that You remove our burdens of whatever we have done. We give our hearts to You, Lord and we ask for Your grace now and forevermore.
Father, we pray today for our government. The Covid -19 virus has given rise to pain, death, closings, and much more. We ask that You bestow nothing but strength and wisdom onto our country’s leaders. They have many great decisions to make, let alone maintaining the country itself. We ask that You be with them and lead them to make the right decisions. In particular:
The Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, Minister of Health and Wellness, Christopher Tufton, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Nigel Clarke, health workers and support staff, Minister of Education, Youth and the Environment, Fayval Williams. Minister of National Security, Horace Chang and his team, Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck. We remember also the judges in our congregation: Paula Blake Powell and Grace Henry McKenzie.
Lord, we pray for the people of Jamaica. So far most of the people have been complying with the Covid-19 restrictions. However, some have not been. Lord, we ask that You touch their hearts and their minds to understand that the restrictions are doing nothing but keeping them safe and that not only does it benefit them, it also benefits others.
Lord, there are many more concerns, but the last one we come to You with for today, dear God, is that of the schools. School being online is different. Some like it, some do not. Lord, so many children have been absent due to not having a device or not having wifi, and many other reasons. Father, we ask that You bless them and open opportunities up for them so they may attend classes as they should.
Lord, remember those among us who are ill. We ask that You will heal and restore them through Your power.
Lord, we remember those among us who are on the usual sick and shut-in list, as well as Sisters Iris Lawrence, Lelith James, Jennifer Nicholson, Virginia Muir, Marville (Cherry) Murray (Sister Iris Lawrence’s daughter), Janet Chen-Young, Joyce Bailey, Lucille Alexander, Jhada Graham, Ethlyn Atkins, Cherrie Lee, Brother George Gabbidon, and Andrew Robinson (Sister Claire Robinson’s son), Brother Danville Japp’s father, Mr. Isaiah Japp, and any family member who is currently struggling with the Covid-19 virus. We mention especially our Sister Rachael Dixon and her family members in Mandeville who are fighting the battle of the Covid-19 disease. We also lift up our Sister Patrice Martin and ask for Your divine intervention in her situation.
Lord, these things are a few of the concerns we have for our lovely island of Jamaica. We ask that You oversee these and all others and rest your hand over our island. Help us get through this together, in Jesus’s name we pray.
Our Prayers of Encouragement are for everyone. Therefore, if you are also in need of prayer or comfort, please contact us with your request. We would be so very happy to share with you.