When my sister was dying, her son asked her, “Mom, if you were granted one wish, what would that be?” With the small voice she had left after undergoing three surgeries and radiation to her head for the aggressive cancer that eventually took her life, she replied, “I wish everyone would have good health.”
Her reply to my nephew’s question is remarkable not as much for what she said as for what she did not say. She did not say she wished God would take away her unbearable and excruciating pain. She did not say she wished God would add years to her life, though I am sure she wanted to live. She did not say she wanted to know why this was happening to her. Her wish struck me as simple, surprising, and pure.
Psalm 27 reflects a similar response to suffering. In the midst of troubles and desperation, the psalmist names the one thing he seeks. He does not ask for fortress against his enemies. He does not ask for more troops and armaments to overcome his adversaries. He does not ask for more power to overcome evil. The one thing he seeks to behold is the beauty of the Lord. The psalmist, beaten down by forces within and without, desires beauty more than anything else. He seeks God’s beauty—not God’s power, not God’s might, not God’s vengeance—only God’s beauty. What a remarkable wish for one who knows suffering and adversity!
What do you seek after? Do you long for beauty? Where and in what circumstances have you encountered beauty? How does beauty transform you? How have you witnessed beauty that transforms the world? What is the power of beauty? What would it mean for you to seek after God’s beauty?
God, let me seek, behold, and reflect your beauty. Amen.
This week’s readings give witness to the ways of God and provide confidence and hope in our faith. In Genesis we read of God’s promise to Abram, a promise that seems very unlikely to a man with no children. But God seals the covenant, and the story later shows that God never breaks God’s promises. The psalmist even while mired in conflict praises God for being his light, his salvation, his stronghold. The psalmist longs to be in God’s presence forever, a desire that can inspire all of us as believers. Paul says that in the future reality, we will no longer experience resistance from those who oppose God. One day Christ will fully transform us to our citizenship in heaven. Jesus himself experienced resistance even in Jerusalem, yet he ultimately triumphs, as will all those who trust in God.
Read Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18. How can you take a step forward in the dark toward God’s seemingly impossible promises for the future?
Read Psalm 27. Recall a time when you waited in the shadows of your life. What did you learn about God’s provision during this time?
Read Philippians 3:17–4:1. How do you live in the paradox of standing firm in faith by being vulnerable?
Read Luke 13:31-35. When have you been unwilling to accept love? How can you comprehend the depth and yearning of God’s love for you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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