Have you wondered how on earth we’re supposed to pray repentance for our nation when we, as individuals, didn’t do the things deserving repentance? Yeah, me too.
I think these words of Ezra give us insight.
Ezra heard of things going on that were against God’s commands within the nation of Israel. He could have protested. He could have taken to screaming out in the streets against the people. He could have gotten up in some faces and called them out for being disobedient to God.
But he didn’t.
He recognized that the consequences for those people and the nation as a whole were overwhelming. He mourned. He grieved. Then he prayed. Though he had not joined in the sin, he allied himself as a part of the nation that had allowed the sin to go on.
This one hits me between the eyes. It goes against every human instinct to ally myself with those who have done wrong and mourn for them as one of them. It seems wrong to accept the justice meant for them as appropriate for me.
I believe, however, that it’s the right thing to do. I believe it’s time for me to recognize that the consequences of so many in our nation, and for our nation as a whole, are overwhelming. Impossible to bear. I must mourn for them. For lost time, lost relationship with the Father, lost love. I must grieve for them, and for me. See, we’re all dealing with the consequences of the sins of our nation, and that should bring sorrow.
Instead of rising up with the “Well, I never did THAT!” I can be like Ezra and say, “I am ashamed. Our sins are piled higher than our heads.”
Us. Our. We.
I believe that when the people called by God’s name will humble themselves and pray and seek His face, and TURN from their wicked ways, God will hear the requests for healing and change in our nation, and bring that about. But if we don’t do the first, He is not bound to do the last.
Not fun words to hear. Not fun tasks to achieve.
Totally worth it.