There is so much cruelty in this world; so many people are willing and even eager to hurt other people.
What is in their hearts that makes them so cruel? Is it selfishness? Is it greed? Is it pride? Is it anger? Is it fear? Is it woundedness? Is it illness? Is it depravity? Is it frustration? Is it injustice? Perhaps it varies from person to person. Perhaps in some cases they don’t even know. Help them to turn to you and to those whom you can use to help them. Lead them to repent and to allow you to change their hearts so that their actions can also change.
Guard us against judgmentalism and self-righteousness. Remind us that some of the same states and conditions that produce cruelty in others are present in us as well. Even as we thank you for delivering us from such evil, keep us from thinking that such deliverance somehow makes us better. Keep us aware that lingering corruptness in our hearts can show itself in ugly ways in our lives.
We recognize that sometimes in this imperfect world those who perpetuate acts of cruelty must be confronted and stopped for the sake of those who are being harmed and who would be harmed if such cruelty is allowed to proceed unchecked. When such a response is necessary, don’t let it be motivated by the same conditions and motives that motivated the cruelty that we confront. Let it be motivated by love for all people, by a desire to seek real justice, and by compassion for those being hurt.
This world puts your children in a tough position, O God. We want to be peacemakers, we want to turn the other cheek, we want to give ourselves up for others, we want to overcome evil with good, we want to confront hate with love, we want to demonstrate compassion to all, and we want to practice radical forgiveness. But we also want to defend the defenseless, to heal the broken, to rescue the perishing, to protect the innocent, and to help the helpless.
When the defenseless, the broken, the perishing, the innocent, and the helpless are being attacked and oppressed by people using force, it is difficult to find any effective way to confront them except with force.
So as we do what we have to do to help those who are being killed and injured and persecuted, please—please—give us sound motives and just practices. Don’t let us confront cruelty with cruelty.
Help us also to see behind and beyond the moment—behind it so that we can acknowledge any responsibility and culpability that we might have for the situations that have developed and beyond it so that we can move toward efforts at understanding and reconciliation.
Cause us to remember that the long-term solutions can never be based on force but must be based on mutual acceptance and respect.
Help us to get there, O God. Please help us to get there.
And as we travel this tough and treacherous road to get there, please—please—guard our hearts.