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  • Writer's pictureBradley Bell

A Liturgy When a Loved One is Ailing Back Home

Father, when first I set sail on this life in another land,

I believed your promise, that for every







or land

left behind for your name’s sake,

I would receive a hundredfold.

And indeed, Lord, in you,

my gains have well surpassed my losses.

And yet now I face a potential loss

that could easily make me reconsider it all.

I have received the pale news that _________ [insert loved one’s name]

is not well.

I knew that this could happen.

I had already counted that cost.

But I did not know

just how it would land on my heart

and commence such a growing tension

like the grimaces of a rope

whose fibers are beginning to fray.

Have mercy, Lord.

I did not know

that hearing of the suffering of another

whom I love so much

would far surpass the suffering

that I myself have bore on this journey.

Have mercy, Lord.

I did not know

that being limited to comfort only through prayer

without the gift of physical touch

without the power of embodied presence

without the offering of sacrificial service

would gnarl in me emotions

like the knotty part of a log that won’t split.

In view of such emotions, the supplicant is here encouraged to confess them freely before the Lord, which may include:

Guilt for not being there

Fear of ongoing suffering and loss

Confusion about what steps to take

Strain from traveling back and forth

Anxiety over expectations from family

Longing for healing

Distraction from needs at hand

Grief in a fallen world

Desperation for the sufferer to trust Christ

Lord, I do not grieve as those

who have no hope.

Just as you touched the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law

and caused her to rise

so that Peter could continue to serve you far from home,

I ask that you would heal _________ [insert loved one’s name].

And I ask that you would raise up people

who will care and comfort well

on my behalf.

As you do so,

let it be enough for me.

And yet, as I surrendered to you from the first,

even now I will follow

if you call me back home

to take the glorious posture

of bowing low

and washing feet.

Or I will stay

if you so choose,

and carry on

with the added weight of sorrow

that will only make me weaker

and thus more pliable

in the hands of your all-sufficient grace.

Only make it clear, Father.

And give me more of you.


This liturgy was originally featured at The Upstream Collective.

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