Rising Above


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 56; 149, 1 Samuel 9:15-10:1, Acts 7:30-43, Luke 22:39-51

The author of Psalm 56 feels besieged from all directions. The psalmist – trampled, oppressed, and fought against all day long – cries out to God for strength and relief. In the face of those who stir up strife, plan evil, and lurk ominously, the psalmist continues to thank and praise the God who will provide delivery from death. Amid many trials, this author’s faith even finds cause for poetry:

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record?

While a literal bottle of tears is unlikely, the psalmist imagined a God so invested in our well-being as to count our sorrows drop by drop; to remember our restless nights as if recorded in a ledger waiting to be balanced. Though enemies are plentiful, the psalmist trusts in God and asks, “What can flesh do to me?”

Are we able to place that kind of trust in God?

We face a lot of threats from mere mortals. Some days we feel as besieged as the psalmist. Do we scheme and plan how to get the upper hand or, as Psalm 56 advises, perform our vows to God and offer thanksgiving because we trust God will deliver us? Plotting a comeuppance for the person who got “our” promotion or bringing up at yet another family holiday dinner that decades-old grudge against our sibling may just be at odds with a better change God has in store for us. Do we have to put up with being stepped on? Certainly not. But when Jesus told us to love our enemies, he didn’t qualify it with “after you get over it.”

So many times, while we toss and weep as we need to, we neglect church, prayer time, or other things because we aren’t in the “right” frame of mind. Yet God isn’t waiting for us to be “right” … God waits for us to be present. Like the psalmist we may have every reason to be upset and fearful. When that’s the case, let’s lean into faith like a kite leans into the wind.

Comfort: God is with us in times of sorrow, fear, and anger.

Challenge: Think about the last time you were upset. Did you turn to God or rely on your own plans? Ask yourself what that can that teach you about how to react in the future.

Prayer: O Most High, when I am afraid, I put my trust in you (Psalm 56:2b-3).

Discussion: What’s your first instinct when you are attacked?

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