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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 14

Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
   They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
   there is no one who does good.

The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind
   to see if there are any who are wise,
   who seek after God.

They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse;
   there is no one who does good,
   no, not one.

Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
   who eat up my people as they eat bread,
   and do not call upon the Lord?

There they shall be in great terror,
    for God is with the company of the righteous.
You would confound the plans of the poor,
   but the Lord is their refuge.

O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
   When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
   Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad. (NRSV)

I love how the Psalms convey human emotion. It is natural when frustrated, angry, and upset, to rage on internally (or—let’s be real—sometimes with friends) about how terrible people are. We may blame them for all the problems of the world and take no responsibility for our own actions. Psalm 14 seems to do just this, and the people the author is blaming are those who don’t believe in the God of Israel. As Reformed Christians today, we know that all humans participate in sin. All of us have work to do, and thank goodness for God’s grace that forgives us and empowers us to engage in this work.

When we look under the emotions of our frustrations, though, we can find where the anger truly lies. Here the psalmist is concerned about the poor. The blame unfairly put on people with different beliefs than the psalmist’s is a symptom of the anger the psalmist has that the needs of those who are poor are not being met. The psalmist cries out for God’s delivery!

What are you crying out for right now? Our emotions are valid, and the experiences that trigger these emotions are real and true. I also wonder, what can we do to take care of ourselves, to release these emotions where they don’t become a source of pain for others? Instead of lashing out on people who “aren’t like us,” instead of provoking an unrelated argument with our partners or friends, how can we take care of our needs so that we can be compassionate and respectful in our relationships?

God, thank you for your grace. Help us take care of ourselves so that we can also be a source of grace and love in our relationships and community. Amen.

Written by Abbi Heimach-Snipes, Pastoral Resident

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