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  1. We've had favor with government for over 200 years in the U.S., but now face the dismissal of our prayers and meaningless, or even partisan. We answer by loving God-neighbor-and enemy, by taking care of the widow and the orphaned, by not tiring in doing good works, and by lifting up the name of Jesus. We'll not be pigeon-holed into political parties or positions. I'm just a migrant laborer here--my true citizenship is in heaven.
  2. “Death by suicide.” The phrase conjures painful memories for many. A parent, sibling, spouse, friend, colleague takes their life. Now we struggle through that particular holiday each year. A healthy support we can offer survivors is to “bear one another’s burdens.” Most often that is expressed by extensive listening, and by refraining from speaking. Those who embrace spirituality can find suicide even more troubling. How will God judge my loved one? Will I see him/her on the other side? An answer I find freeing is that God is ultimate goodness and justice. He will do right by our loved ones. I do not need to know how that will look. I trust God. A few may struggle with a niggling thought—maybe s/he was right. Perhaps their suffering is over. It may be that self-harm gets pushed from fleeting miserable contemplation to a ferocious temptation, in light of another’s death by suicide. To bolster our survivor instincts we Christians use our seasons of emotional health to meditate on verses like Romans 12:1: I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. Then, when we face the hardest self-destructive temptations we choose to live because our lives belong to God. In our worst times that has to be enough. As professional helpers, we clergy do well to ally ourselves with trusted therapists and other mental health specialists. Likewise, most psychologists and counselors, regardless of personal faith allegiance, accept that their clients’ spirituality is a huge area of potential strength and health. It’s not about us, or our chosen fields of expertise. We support the well-being of those we serve.