The Smoke

Matthew 22:37-40

 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

Thought for the DayPray for those around the world who are in need.

Coming out of church on Wednesday afternoon, I smelled smoke.  It was hazy in the area and I had no idea where it was coming from.  I, the worrier, drove straight home to make sure things were okay there.  My youngest child came home from school and said they smelled it while they were on the playground at recess.  As we awoke on Thursday, the smoke was still visible and the smell was stronger.  The students in the schools in the area were not allowed to go outside for recess as they were worried about air quality.  We realized after some time that the smoke was present because it had drifted south with the wind from fires burning in the mountains to the north of us.  I knew it had been very dry and that people were being careful not to burn grills outside and that “No Fire” signs were on the grills at our park.  But I had not realized how bad things were in the mountains until I smelled the smoke here.  Talking to my sweet cousin who lives in the mountains and hearing that she had been told at one point that they should be prepared in case they were asked to evacuate made it seem very real.  The smoke and haze have brought me to a new place of understanding about how bad the fires are in the mountains a couple of hours north of us.    Before I smelled the smoke, that distance was far away and the need for prayers in that area was also far away in my mind.  Since I smelled the smoke, the distance is closer and I realize the need for prayer is closer and more clear.

So often, we think about problems in the world as being “far away” and think we are not affected by them.  But so much pain is taking place right now around the world as people are suffering from starvation and homelessness because of flooding or earthquakes.  People are suffering because of disease as they witness their loved ones going through illness or they themselves suffer in pain.  There are fires that seem so far away.  But they are not that far away at all.  The problems of “the world” seem so far away.  But as children of God, those problems should not be so far away.  They should be near to our hearts as those suffering are our brothers and sisters in Christ.  “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” and that includes all of God’s children around the world.  Help us bring them closer to our hearts and pray for them as if they are right next to us.

Prayer:  Father, we love You and praise You today.  Today, God, we pray for those affected by the fires in the mountains that they are safe at the end of the day.  We pray for those who suffer around the world with famine, devastation, and illness.  Help us remember that they are all our brothers and sisters through You.  Help us today to bring them closer to our hearts.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Praying for those in need

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