Prayer for a time of bereavement
(John MacDuff, "Family Prayers" 1885)
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. You gave us our blessings--and You have a supreme and inalienable right to take them away! "Even so, Father, for it seems good in Your sight."
O Lord God Almighty, 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. All is the unerring dictate of Your infinite wisdom and unchanging faithfulness and love. "This also comes from the Lord Almighty," who is ever "excellent in working." Often we cannot discern, through our tears, the rectitude and love of Your afflictive dispensations. Often are we led to say, with trembling 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.
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 not open our mouths, because You are the one who has done this! Man may err, and has often erred. But, O unerring God--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."
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.
Let us hear Jesus' 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!"
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--so shall your strength be."
May this thought reconcile us to bear all and suffer all--that 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.