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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, June 22, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 9:9–20

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
   for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion.
   Declare his deeds among the peoples.
For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
   he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

Be gracious to me, O Lord.
   See what I suffer from those who hate me;
   you are the one who lifts me up from the gates of death,
so that I may recount all your praises,
   and, in the gates of daughter Zion,
   rejoice in your deliverance.

The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
   in the net that they hid has their own foot been caught.
The Lord has made himself known, he has executed judgment;
   the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.

The wicked shall depart to Sheol,
   all the nations that forget God.

For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
   nor the hope of the poor perish forever.

Rise up, O Lord! Do not let mortals prevail;
   let the nations be judged before you.
Put them in fear, O Lord;
   let the nations know that they are only human. (NRSV)

Reflection
Many times throughout the psalms there are pleas from the psalmists to God to “deliver me from mine enemies” or in this case that God will “see what I suffer from those who hate me.” I’ve always identified with the psalmists as I’ve read these prayers of joy and lamentation. But reading this passage I wondered, where have there been times in my life when someone has thought of me as their enemy, as someone who hates them? Who prays to God for the guidance, courage, strength, wisdom, and patience to deal with me? Whose life am I making harder instead of easier, even if I don’t mean to? Who finds me difficult to work with? And what can I do to change that? How can I be more humble, act with more grace, or be more patient?

There are lots of ways to answer that last question, but one phrase that’s really stuck with me since I heard it preached by Shannon Kershner a couple of years ago was that “it’s more important to be loving than to be right.” For me, that means not needing to correct people all the time, picking my battles, and receiving criticism with a spirit of wanting to learn and grow—with grace and humility. It also means a focus on empathy, both in terms of how I react to someone else’s words and in how I choose my own words. What does it mean for you?

Prayer                                                  
Lord of my life, forgive me when I speak and act in ways that make others perceive me as their enemy. Open my eyes to where I have room to learn and grow and help me remember that it is more important to be loving than to be right. Amen.

Written by Nicole Spirgen, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church


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