August 9, 2020

Some Little Death of Hope

Do not let the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me.
Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Ps 69:15-16
Sometimes the psalmist describes a situation which is beyond my ken. Here we have David saying that he's being threatened with annihilation—and since David fought verifiable wars against flesh-and-blood enemies, I have to believe the threat is real. I suppose I can only relate to Psalm 69 in a figurative sense.

But as shallow as my comparison may seem, the fact that any of us can relate to it all is important. For in this era of constant communication and easy contact, I encounter people every day who feel like they're on the verge of being swept away in a flood or who feel they're sinking fast. Heck, even I feel like that sometimes.
  • A woman whose checking account is empty, but at least she's caught up with her bills and is feeling relief... then she is laid off because Covid-19, and she must go into debt. 
  • Or a young man just out of college whose life is full of hope, until he begins to show symptoms of the virus... and his life is thrown into question because he is in an at-risk category. 
  • Or a person whose most significant human relationship goes from bad to much, much worse. 
  • Or even if something's not happening to me or to someone I know personally, I can no longer hide from the constant bad news of pandemic, economic downturn, and political accusations. It's everywhere: newspaper headlines, television, on my computer screen... and it now even comes at me on my smart phone.
There's always something, some little death of hope, that makes me or somebody I love feel overwhelmed. And then, like the psalmist, we go to God with our troubles, laying claim to God's abiding love and plentiful forgiveness. The problem is, sometimes, the problems seem more real than our prayerful words—more real, even, than a God we cannot see.

It helps me, at least, to meditate on the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: "But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today."
Matt. 6:33-34

I am overwhelmed, O God. Help me to listen for what lies beneath my own worries to hear the One who invited me not to dwell in the past or live only for tomorrow, but to receive each day—each moment—as a gift—for it is the voice of Jesus Christ my Lord, in whose Name I pray as he taught me: Our Father...

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