Today, thousands of people across the nation will join in prayer in an act of faith and solidarity in the wake of illness and uncertainty. President Trump designated Sunday, March 15 as a National Day of Prayer. He addressed his fellow Americans by saying, “We are a country that throughout our history has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these.”
Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, entreated, “Will you join us in praying? I encourage you to contact your family, your friends, and church members to ask them to be in prayer. God Loves you. Turn to Him with your fears.”
Local clergy also responded to the call for prayer with scripture and words of encouragement.
Pastor Barb McKewin of Parkview United Methodist Church in Milbank says, “When things change suddenly, too much is happening, or I’m feeling nervous, I often turn to Isaiah. Today, however, God directed me to Philippians 4:6-7. It reads, ‘Don’t be anxious about anything. Rather bring up all your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then, the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Jesus Christ.'”
Jacob Ebsen, youth minister at Calvary Church in Milbank, says what comes to his mind is Timothy 1:7. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Jacob adds, “Let us rest on the assurance we can trust God in all circumstances and that includes the one we face today.” He says Proverbs 3:5 reminds us to ‘trust in the Lord with all our hearts’ and ‘all our hearts’ means not just a little bit of trust, but to fully trust him and not lean on what we think we know.”
Pastor McKewin, who is known for spending many prayerful hours knitting, coquetting and creating beautiful quilts, echoes this belief in the superior strength of the Lord. “I have a strong grip from all my needlework, but God is holding us tighter.”
My mother, who is no longer with us, most likely would have said, “This too shall pass.” It was one of her favorite sayings. Recently, I discovered it comes from an ancient Persian fable. The English poet Edward Fitzgerald retold the fable as Solomon’s Seal, and Abraham Lincoln recounted it in a speech in 1859. He said, “An Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. The wise men presented him with a ring inscribed with the words: And this, too, shall pass away.”
There are always seasons of concern, sadness, or celebration. Only God is eternal!