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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Today’s Reading | Psalm 27 

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
   whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
   of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
   to devour my flesh--
my adversaries and foes--
   they shall stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
   my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
   yet I will be confident.

One thing I asked of the Lord,
   that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
   all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
   and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
   in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
   he will set me high on a rock.

Now my head is lifted up
   above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
   sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
   be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
   Your face, Lord, do I seek.
   Do not hide your face from me.

Do not turn your servant away in anger,
   you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
   O God of my salvation!
If my father and mother forsake me,
   the Lord will take me up.

Teach me your way, O Lord,
   and lead me on a level path
   because of my enemies.
Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
   for false witnesses have risen against me,
   and they are breathing out violence.

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
   be strong, and let your heart take courage;
   wait for the Lord! (NRSV)

My dad’s sister, my Aunt Arilda, is one of the strongest people I know. She is a very sensitive person, and we have always had a special bond. A couple of years ago I was going through a very difficult breakup with my boyfriend; at the same time she was going through cancer after a year prior losing her husband, the love of her life, to esophageal cancer. She had also lost both of her parents three years earlier. As I was talking through how I was feeling, she said, “I know no one really wants to think of life this way, but it really is a series of challenges and it is how you react to them and face them that makes all the difference.”

I’ve never forgotten those words. Yes, we all have great times and there are peaks in life, but the valleys teach us something too. Getting through painful times gets a little easier the more you face them because that is life, a series of challenges amongst the really good times.

This psalm reminds me of what my Aunt Arilda said about facing those troubles in life, and I hold the last verse close to my heart. In the words of the New International Version, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Lord, your majesty is great, your protection strong, and your heart overflowing with love. I pray that you help me see your hand reaching out in front of me, guiding me through the days where I feel I cannot go on, through the days when I do not feel your presence. Amen.

Written by Ashley Elskus, Director, Center for Life and Learning

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