BY John MacDuff, 1885

Prayer for a time of bereavement

O Lord God almighty, we rejoice to think that "the Lord reigns!" Though Your way may sometimes seem to be in the sea, and Your path in the deep waters, and Your judgments unsearchable—yet nothing can happen by accident or chance—but all is the unerring dictate of infinite wisdom and unchanging faithfulness and love. Where would we be at this hour, but for the blessed assurance, "This also comes from the Lord Almighty," who, though "wonderful in counsel," is ever "excellent in working." Often we cannot discern, through our tears, the rectitude and love of Your varied dispensations. Often are we led to say, with trembling and misgiving hearts, "Truly, You are a God who hides Yourself." But all is well. We could not wish our concerns in better hands than in Yours.

May this wondrous challenge silence and rebuke every murmur, "He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him, also freely give us all things?"

You cannot send one trial that is unnecessary, or light one spark in the furnace that might be spared. We will be silent, we will open not our mouths, because You are the one who has done this! Man may err, and has often erred; but, O unerring God! Your faithfulness has established in the heavens! The Judge of all the earth must do right. We would seek to lie submissive at Your feet, and say in unmurmuring resignation, "May Your will be done." We "fear to enter into the cloud,"—You have afflicted us by terrible things in righteousness; the desire of our eyes has been taken away by a stroke—the shadows of death have unexpectedly fallen around us! Oh forbid that we should rebel under the rod, and refuse to be comforted. Let us glorify You "in the fires!" Let us feel that if we are Your children, there is not a drop of wrath in that cup of sorrow; but all is love, infinite love! We would see no hand but Yours "the Lord gave us our blessings—and the Lord has a supreme and inalienable right to take them away!" "Even so, Father, for it seems good in Your sight."

Our earnest prayer, blessed God, is, that this severe trial may be sanctified to us all. We have need of such a blow—to remind us that this earth is not our rest. We were leaning on the creature—we were disowning and undeifying the Great Creator. You would not leave us to ourselves, to settle on our lees. You saw the need of Fatherly chastisement to bring back our alien and truant hearts to Yourself. Oh, may we listen to our Father's voice. May we feel it to be a loud voice, and yet full of gentle tenderness. May it rouse within each of us the question, "What will You have me to do?" May we "arise and call upon our God." Thus may this very affliction, which, for the present, seems not to be joyous but grievous, nevertheless afterward yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

Lord, abundantly sanctify this solemn dispensation to every member of our household—to all friends and neighbors. May the warning voice sound loudly in our ears, "You also be ready!" It is another testimony borne to the truth, that at such a time as we think not, the Son of God may come. May it be ours ever to live in preparation for that solemn event which awaits us all. Whatever our hand finds to do, may we do it with our might, remembering that there is no work, nor device, nor labor, nor repentance in the grave, where we are going.

Sprinkle us all with the blood of Jesus; give us all a saving interest in Him, as the Resurrection and the Life. Let us hear His voice of encouragement and love, sounding amid the stillness of the death-chamber, and from the depths of the sepulcher, "Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave." "Yet a little while, and He who shall come will come, and will not tarry." Soon shall these bitter tears and partings of a weeping world be over; death-divided friends shall meet, never again to know separation. Enable us to look forward to that blessed hope and that glorious appearing, when "those who sleep in Jesus, will God bring with Him." Lord, meanwhile descend, and to the friendless prove a Friend. O Helper of the helpless, Comforter of all who are cast down, better and dearer than the dearest and best of earthly relatives—give us that grace which You have promised specially in seasons of weakness; may we realize the truth of Your own precious promise, "As your day is—so shall your strength be."

"I hear the tumult of the raging seas as Your waves and surging tides sweep over me." Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the day time, and in the night His song shall be with us. However low we may be sunk under the waves, the arms of Your love and upholding grace are lower still. May it be our sweet experience, that the deeper we sink, only discovers more the infinite depths of Your love and mercy. May this thought reconcile us to bear all and suffer all—we shall soon be done with this present evil world, and be with our God, and that forever and ever! Hide us meanwhile, in the clefts of the Smitten Rock, until this and all other of earth's calamities are over and past. May we trust Your heart—where we cannot trace Your hand! We wait patiently for the great day of disclosures, when all shall be revealed, and all be found redounding to the praise and the glory of Your great name!

Hear us, blessed God. All that we ask is for the sake of Your dear Son, our only Lord and Savior. Amen.