It’s possible to trust God and really struggle at the same time. Courage is most visible when it’s held in the face of real danger. This psalm reminds us that we are not alone when we experience deep pain in life: in the devastation of abandonment by family, in the harm of violence and lies, in human anger, and at times when we cannot perceive God’s presence.
I am frequently tempted by the lie that says having faith means always having it together. I think I should always feel strong. Or, worse, I think that if I’m struggling or experiencing tragedy, it must be because I didn’t love God well enough. This way of thinking is destructive and dangerous.
As a counterbalance to this way of looking at myself, I find it helpful to look out at God’s world. I love the affirmations near the end of this psalm: “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” When spoken in the midst of real struggle, destruction, and pain, this is a bold faith claim that insists on a hope found in perceiving beautiful and good things.
There is real struggle, destruction, and evil in the world, not only in our personal relationships but spanning the whole of our earth. Our climate crisis threatens entire communities as changing weather patterns bring devastation.
It’s been my experience that even in my most hopeless moments, signs of hope are all around me—even if I don’t perceive them until later. Part of the discipline of faith is daring to look for God’s presence at all times. This divine presence gives us the emotional boost we need to keep going, and it allows us to muster the courage that goes to our hearts. This courage in the face of danger makes all things possible.
Even when it’s all falling apart, God, help me see your beauty here in the land of the living. Amen.
This week’s readings give witness to God’s ways 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 triumphed, 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.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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