Feelings of defeat, loss, and suffering have been turned into songs for millennia. From the poems of early civilizations to every contemporary genre, there is something irresistible about songs reflecting human pain. This view is summed up by the old joke about what happens when you play a country music song backwards: “You get your truck back, you get your dog back, you sober up, you get your wife back, and you get out of jail.”

It is not surprising that the great hymnbook of the Bible is full of laments, complaints, and the primal screams of a people at the end of their rope. The Psalms are often a mirror of a community’s long struggle with disappointment and broken dreams.

Psalm 66 is a good example of those kinds of lyrics. In its verses there is acknowledgment that times have not always been easy. There have been moments when the people went through “fire and water,” and times when those around them were hostile. But instead of continuing on with that list of woes, the singer notes a surprising but inescapable fact: They were not destroyed. They survived. Their defeats were temporary. They came through their ordeal stronger than when they entered it. They survived because God was with them through it all.

While I tend to resist the idea that God intentionally induces suffering and trial, there is no doubt that life is full of both. What the psalmist claims is that God is with us in the midst of those trials and has a plan not only for our survival but our thriving. God even has a habit of saving us from ourselves. Defeat is temporary. Hope in God springs eternal. Suffering is inevitable, but grace is eternal. News like that is enough to make one break into song . . . not a sad song, but a joyful noise!

Lord, in the midst of suffering, I find your strength. In adversity, I find resilience. Your presence through hardship and jubilation is my comfort. Thank you for your eternal faithfulness. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 17:11-19

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Lectionary Week
October 3–9, 2022
Scripture Overview

Through Jeremiah, God sends a message to the people in exile: They are to seek good for the city of Babylon, their new home. God will bless the city and in doing so will bless God’s people. The psalmist encourages the people to praise God with songs recounting past challenges through which God’s powerful deeds have brought them. This can be encouragement for those currently experiencing difficulties. In Second Timothy, Paul encourages his protégé to endure suffering if necessary. In fact, Timothy should expect to experience resistance. Although the apostle Paul is in chains, the word of God is powerful and can never be chained. The story in Luke reminds us of a basic truth: We should remember to show gratitude to God for answered prayers.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. When have you experienced physical or metaphorical exile? How has God helped you to thrive in your Babylon?
Read Psalm 66:1-12. Recall a time of division in your family or community of faith. How did God bring you individually and collectively to a spacious place?
Read 2 Timothy 2:8-15. How do you remember Christ in your actions toward others?
Read Luke 17:11-19. What boundaries keep you from full wellness that can be found in Jesus Christ?

Respond by posting a prayer.