From the moment of hearing President Trump’s Covid diagnosis, I’ve been struggling with my spiritual state. I admit it would be pretend praying, or going through the motions, to send supplications heavenward for his rapid healing, his relief from pain and anxiety, and his comfort and peace.
This man, who gleefully mocks the struggles of others, and in my view, brings suffering upon hundreds of thousands by not engaging seriously in a national health crisis, is not someone for whom I can sincerely pray. My antipathy was a pretty substantial block to any sincerity inherent in that prayer.
I looked to my morning church service today to see how we would address this weekend’s news. Honestly, we dodged the issue. We spoke of our continued blessings in the midst of national and personal turmoil. Perhaps I was the only person who found it glaring that we neither directly prayed for the President, nor addressed why we did not.
President Trump embodies the very target of radical grace to which I’m called to direct my prayers. The person, who in my eyes, least deserves it. Because I have been the recipient of that very grace, over and over again.
Any yet, the ongoing assault we’ve endured, the sense of soulless cruelty we’ve been subjected to, begs the question of the humanity of this particular individual. Where is the spirit to which the Incarnate can direct grace and healing?
My heart was moved by an article by David French, “Praying for the Reckless President.” He speaks of the fact that as a believer, we know that even the most prideful human heart isn’t beyond the reach of redemptive grace.
He says that even as we pray for healing, we must pray for transformation.
“None of this is partisan. Republican Christians should seek justice when even the men and women they vote for act recklessly. Democratic Christians should love mercy even when an aggressive political opponent has shown no similar consideration in return. And Christians of all political persuasions should humbly (and with full knowledge of our own frailty) seek true repentance from men and women in power. Their transformation benefits us all.
However, if political pride prevails even when mercy abounds, the need for accountability becomes clear. Believers must pray for President Trump’s speedy recovery, but justice may still demand his resounding defeat. ”
This, at last, is something I can rally behind. I am empty, just as I feel the nation is empty, if I withhold empathy and loving prayers from a person who is hurting and terrified, no matter how odious and harmful I find him to be.
It’s not something I am always fully committed to. It’s something to which I aspire. The more I yield to Spirit’s invitation to open my heart to love, the less interest I have in balancing the scales from my self-centered vantage point. And for the first time in at least three days, I can breathe.
Dr. Vicki K. Harvey is a practicing psychologist in Southern California and an MHN Board member. She relishes her role in reaching out to WISE congregations within the UCC. She and her husband are caring for two wonderful foster boys, ages thirteen and seven, and the center of the household, our beloved chiweenie Sedona.