Thoughts and Prayers

Why do these beautiful words carry a negative connotation? The good, the bad and the ugly, about this often used phrase.

Compassionate, is it not? Thoughts and prayers, they are usually ‘with the families’. And usually from a politician behind a microphone.
It is a wonderful thing, if his or her thoughts are with the family of a victim of something. And if he or she prays for this family. One wonders, however, why he has to communicate this to some public, via a microphone, in front of running cameras. Would this public want to know this? Why would this politician want the public to know this?

Let us not be cynical.. oh allright, why not? Probably this politician neither prays for, nor thinks about this family. But somehow he ended up behind the microphone, does not yet have all the information about the case and did not have time to analyse it, and yet ‘the public’ expects him to say something about it. Not having anything substantial to say about the matter, he says something that does not land him in trouble but benefits his public image: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families…”

That is the Bad.

The Ugly: it is very well possible that this politician does have all the information about the case, knows that something can be done about it but does not want to because it will cost him. Money or voters.

This is the origin of the negative connotation of the phrase. If used as a substitute for action it is disrespectful to say things like these.

Faith and Deeds

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

James 2: 14-19

The Good.

– Faith will yield fruits. One’s faith will be shown by one’s deeds
If one actually thinks about the family of a deceased, if one prays for them, deeds will follow. It is good to start with thoughts and prayers. Even to share those, not with the public but with the victims and families. It will help them because it will make them feel heard, acknowledged and supported. It is good to start with compassion.
And after that, action is needed. Even if it means analysing the case and concluding that nothing can reasonably be done to prevent similar events or to do justice. Even if it means paying another visit to the family and asking whether you can help.

Let us be with those families in our thoughts. Although this may be hard and burdensome. And sometimes frustrating and disheartening, especially when nothing is or can be done about it. Then, prayer will help. Prayer for strength, for justice, for faith that, in the end, justice will be done.

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