Monday, November 26, 2018

That Haven

Their courage melted away in their calamity; they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.
 
Ps 107:26b-31 

The psalms give us hope. And in Psalm 107, we see God's constant love, over against Israel's unfaithfulness. Now sometimes doubt is mistaken for unfaithfulness and vice versa. And being too sure of a matter of faith can lead to arrogance, or even persecution of those who disagree. So, as Rev. John Ames said in Marilynne Robinson's Gilead,
I'm not saying never doubt or question. The Lord gave you a mind so that you would make honest use of it. I'm saying you must be sure that the doubts and questions are your own, not, so to speak, the mustache and walking stick that happen to be the fashion of any particular moment. 
Posing a sincere question is one thing. Entertaining a doubt as though it's an honored guest is quite another. I might not be guided as Israel was in the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, but I am guided by Israel's telling of its own story, by the life and words of Christ, and by the advice given to the early church. Throughout the Bible I find answers to questions just like the ones I ask. And so I really do have a resource. The less I turn to it and immerse myself in it, the shakier I find the ground on which my path lies. I am thankful that today's psalm is one of the resources in my toolbox to help me work out the problems I encounter in life.

Until we have reached that haven, the slightest breeze will make us tremble, but so long as the Lord is our Shepherd, we shall walk without fear in the valley of the shadow of death.
 John Calvin, Institutes, 3.13.5

Thank you for stilling the storm and calming the waves, Lord. In Jesus' Name, who taught me to pray...