Nearly unprecedented flooding has covered much of our state in recent days, displacing many Nebraskans from their homes and bringing suffering and pain to many more. This is a prayer for those impacted by the flood, and for us all as we respond to it.

“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me.

“When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you in your holy temple.”

Jonah 2:3-4, 7

Heavenly Father: We know that for many, these have been days of unimagined grief and toil. Some among us have endured loss – of property and possessions, of home and comfort, and (a few) of life itself. These are days that have awakened all of us from the monotony of life’s pleasantries and comforts, and for some that has meant waking to a living nightmare. For those who have wakened to sorrow, we pray.

We pray for the real physical needs felt by many. For those who have lost homes and livelihoods, we pray that you will provide relief and security. For those who are now sinking in uncertainty – about where meals will come from, about where they will lay their heads at night, or about their prospects for the future, we pray that you will be a sure and steady anchor, giving hope that endures in the face of trial.

Even beyond the physical needs and turmoil unearthed by these floods, Father, we pray for the hearts of those affected by this circumstance. We pray for comfort and peace from your Spirit for those who know now only weariness and pain. We ask you to provide rest. We ask you to use this ordeal to call people back to you. May the fragility of life itself, so obviously exposed by these rising waters, lead many to seek that which lasts beyond the grave and which cannot be shaken.

Finally, Father, may these days dissolve for each of us the illusion of control that we perpetuate over our lives. It is our nature to plot and plan as if we are the masters of our own domains, God. When our plans progress without opposition or interruption, this delusion is only reinforced. But your Word tells us that each of our lives is like a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:14). To assume that we control anything is prideful boasting (see James 4:16).

Thus we can see the calamity of these days as kindness and mercy, even as we grieve and mourn over it. Just as the flood and the fish came from your hand as an act of mercy in Jonah’s life (you cast me into the deep…your waves and your billows passed over me), we can see these days as an act of mercy to spare us from the myth that we control our own lives. We are not sovereign, Lord; you are. We do not reign and rule over our lives; you do, as you do over all of creation. And so we accept these things from your hand, knowing that you can use them, ultimately, for our deliverance and good.

We know you are not indifferent to us, or to the pain we feel in these days, Father. Thank you for Jesus, who knew such pain himself – and endured far greater for our sake on the cross. We pray all of these things in his precious name. Amen.

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