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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Today’s Reading | Psalm 61

Hear my cry, O God;
   listen to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to you,
   when my heart is faint.

Lead me to the rock
   that is higher than I;
for you are my refuge,
   a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me abide in your tent forever,
   find refuge under the shelter of your wings.
For you, O God, have heard my vows;
   you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Prolong the life of the king;
   may his years endure to all generations!
May he be enthroned forever before God;
   appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!

So I will always sing praises to your name,
   as I pay my vows day after day. (NRSV)

Reflection
In times of weakness, despair, and fear I know I often hold on tight to the illusion that I am in control.

Though it always feels counterintuitive, in those moments I only find relief by releasing my grip on that illusion as much as possible. I’m not successful at it often, and in the face of the many recent horrendous acts of violence around the world, I have felt I have no choice but to release my grip and come face-to-face with my many fears—for myself, my family, and the world—and the uncertainty and doubt that I so often try to keep at arm’s length. I’m forced to acknowledge that I do not have control—it’s a sort of involuntary humility.

Psalm 61 is attributed to David, and we know that he faced many moments of fear, uncertainty, downfall, and despair—before, during, and after his reign as king. Like many other psalms, Psalm 61 strikes a beautiful balance between the resignation to the place the author has found himself, the honest expression of his helplessness, his trust that God is present, and his commitment to continue to praise God. I love the way the psalms reflect human experience so accurately: we live in a tension between faith and doubt, helplessness and hopefulness, despair and praise, and that’s OK.

Prayer
Hear my cry, O God. We live in an uncertain world. At times that’s a scary thing, but the unexpected can also bring joy. Help me to be open and honest about the uncertainty in the world, but help me to be open too so I don’t miss the moments of love and happiness that also arise unexpectedly. So I will always sing praises to your name. Amen.

Written by Jeremy Pfaff, Editorial Assistant


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