“Thoughts and Prayers”

Dear Reader,

The last few months have been riddled with tragedy and disaster. I don’t think there is one of us that could say we haven’t been affected in one way or another by the hurricanes and the shootings.

It’s difficult to put into exact words what I’m feeling right now. I’m saddened by the evil that is plaguing our world in many forms. I’m hurting for the lives we have lost and for the people who are trying to recover. I wish I could give every single person who has been affected a hug and tell them they are loved. I wish I could tell the entire world that things are going to get better and that this is the worst it can get.

The reality is that things can get worse, and likely will. I’m a devout Christian and I truly believe that the world is going to continue getting worse before Christ comes again. If you don’t believe in Christ, or a God at all, that’s okay. I’m not trying to change your beliefs. I’m simply trying to express mine.

In times far gone, it seemed like tragedies brought people to together. Whether that be in their communities, their families, or on their knees in prayer. Instead of fighting about trivial things, people stood up for what was right and tried to make the world a better place by helping where they could.

Today, all I see is division. I see hate-filled comments directed at people who are “sending thoughts and prayers.” The tragedies become political targets for both sides of the spectrum. Somehow, we have turned the pain of loss into a war of opinions.

I am one of those people who pray. I pray because it gives me comfort. I pray because I believe in a Heavenly Father who loves us so much that he sent his only begotten son to suffer and die for us, so that we can have relief in Christ’s atonement.

I pray because I have faith that God has the power to help those in need of comfort. I pray because I believe my faith will help strengthen those who are downtrodden.

Now, I am not so ignorant as to say that one prayer will solve everything. I believe in faith and grace, and I believe that faith without works is dead. I believe we must take action where we can.

That being said, I, in my Utah bubble, with health issues and devoting time to school and work, and accumulating student debt, cannot physically help. There was no way for me to go to Houston to help clean up homes after the hurricane. Because of the medications I’m on, I couldn’t donate blood to replenish the store after the Vegas massacre. I couldn’t donate money because I don’t have anything I can give right now.

So what am I supposed to do, when I can’t do anything? If I said “Well, that sucks.” and went about my day without another thought… Well, that’s just awful.

Maybe if “thoughts and prayers” seem empty to you, maybe you don’t understand that it means those of us who physically cannot help are trying to show that we do care.

Our society has an extreme lack of empathy for a time where we are trying to become more inclusive and welcoming towards those who are different than us. Maybe we can ALL do a little better in loving others despite our differences. Maybe we can assume that the person offering their “thoughts and prayers” are trying to help people know that someone, somewhere cares about them.

And finally, before you judge someone for praying, allow me to share one of my favorite scripture passages:

And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.

And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.

But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

-2 Nephi 32:7-9

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