Praying for courage

In this morning’s Fruit of the Vine, Bruce Butler writes of his service as a hospice chaplain, “working alongside dedicated nurses, doctors, social workers, and hospice aides to bring comfort and care to patients and their families during the final stage of living – the dying stage.” During his nine years in that position, Bruce noted that it is common for “patients who have unreconciled family issues [to] struggle for peace at the end.”

I read that first paragraph three times this morning, especially that phrase: “unreconciled family issues.” And I thought about all the different families of which I’m a part. My parents and brothers and sisters. My extended family. My church family. My yearly meeting. I thought about some of our “unreconciled family issues,” and I briefly considered compiling a list. But I didn’t know where to start. There’s a lot. A lot that still hurts.

Maybe that’s how it is for you, too.

“Sadly, some families live for years or even decades without forgiveness,” Bruce writes, “unwilling to confess uncaring actions, painful words, or hurtful attitudes.” And whose responsibility is it to risk going first? Bruce doesn’t say. Instead, he points to the reality that “sometimes we find that harboring hurts keeps us in positions of power over our loved ones, fueling our refusal to reconcile.”

I think Bruce is right. I think Bruce is right about me. I think Bruce is right about us.

Bruce uses the Genesis narratives about Joseph to illustrate how hard it can be to reconcile. “First he had to assure himself his brothers had fundamentally changed.” Joseph also wanted to know “that his youngest brother was still alive.” Forgiveness didn’t come easily to Joseph. In spite of his position, Joseph still had suspicions, fears, hurts. Yet Joseph took a risk and discovered that he also had a “powerful weapon for good in [his] family – the power of forgiveness.”

We, too, have this “powerful weapon for good,” and Bruce points out that when we learn to wield this weapon “to seek reconciliation . . . we free ourselves to once again serve the Lord together with gladness.”

Bruce offers a prayer suggestion: “Lord Jesus, make me an instrument of your peace in the life of my family. Give me courage to forgive and reconcile.”

Today I’m praying for that courage. I’m also praying for you.

Eric Muhr

P.S. Don’t forget our continuing sale on all of Arthur Roberts’ work. Click here to see the full collection. All of Arthur’s books remain discounted in our bookstore through Monday, March 6 .