When wars rage and earthquakes destroy and the persistent news cycle is painful, our trust can be shaken to the core. We can become numb. Be tempted to check out or shut down. But the psalmist reminds us that even as war — global and personal — comes up against us, still we can trust.
It’s important to notice as we engage the world how our emotions, fears, joys, stresses, and hopes live in and impact and wound our bodies. And equally important is to pay attention to the wisdom of our bodies that can lead us to healing. But too often we have been told to ignore or to silence this wisdom.
When our head hurts, we reach for aspirin.
When we are tired, we push through.
When our eyes are strained from too much work, we buy glasses with blue blockers.
When our stomach hurts or our chest gets tight, we ignore or minimize.
When our brow is furrowed or tears just behind our eyes, we tell friends and colleagues, “I’m fine.”
Our bodies are trying to get our attention.
To remind us to drink water.
To rest or walk outside.
To step away from the computer.
To see a doctor or call a therapist.
To be vulnerable with our friends.
Not only do our bodies reflect our emotional and spiritual health. I believe the way we use and form our bodies — even the prayer postures we choose — can also improve our emotional and spiritual health and renew our trust. How can you continue to come before the Lord? On your knees, with hands clasped, or with heads bowed? Standing with arms raised, eyes open, or prostrate on the ground? Dancing or clapping?
Take a moment to feel the wars that are rising in your life… among your family and friends, in your church or city, across the globe whether through news outlets or personal connections to war and natural disasters. Maybe choose one situation where you feel a particular heaviness, a burden to pray, to know God’s abiding presence.
I invite you to open your arms and lift your face as if bathed in the light of the Lord.
If war comes up against me,
I will continue to trust in this:
I have asked one thing from the Lord—
it’s all I seek:
to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life.
What if you take a blanket, a pillow, or a prayer shawl to create a prayer posture of cover and protection in the midst of your own burdens or as you pray for others in harm’s way?
Pray again the words of Psalm 27.
What if you raise your arms, sway, shout, and dance as the psalmist does? Pray the verses of the psalm in the midst of your situation and for the world.
Finally, I invite you to feel your feet grounded to the floor. Feel the strength of your body, imagine the strength in those for whom you pray. And hold your hands in front of your heart, asking for courage for yourself and for those around the world — soldiers, citizens, first responders, children, and the elderly. Pray again the verses of Psalm 27.
What is the wisdom of your body telling you? What form is it asking you to take?
Though wars rise up against us, we will yet trust in the Lord.
May it be so. Amen.
Kara Lassen Oliver serves as the Associate Publisher and Executive Director of Content for The Upper Room.
This article appeared in the November 2023 edition of The Upper Room Journal, a monthly newsletter to support you in creating daily life with God. Subscribe here.
Photograph by Allef Vinicius / Unsplash
Consider a recent situation in your life where you felt overwhelmed by the chaos of the world or your personal circumstances. How might adopting a specific prayer posture have impacted your emotional and spiritual well-being in that moment?
What is the “wisdom of your body” trying to tell you right now? How can you incorporate its guidance to strengthen your trust in the face of life's chaos?
Share your responses with others in the comments below!