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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, August 21, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 82

God has taken his place in the divine council;
   in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
   and show partiality to the wicked?
Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
   maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
   deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
   they walk around in darkness;
   all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I say, “You are gods,
   children of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, you shall die like mortals,
   and fall like any prince.”

Rise up, O God, judge the earth;
   for all the nations belong to you! (NRSV)

Reflection
One of the most important but oft neglected questions we can ask is “Why?” Children ask it in abundance, from the more innocent—“Why is the sky blue?”—to the more probing—“Why is that person sleeping on the sidewalk?” When the emphasis is on faithful obedience, “why” questions can feel inappropriate or uncomfortable. But within the scriptural witness, especially within the psalms, we see an acknowledgement, if not embrace, of the human desire to especially question the troubling ways of the world. The fact that the psalmist pleads for justice is the surest indication that it does not yet exist. The weak have their rights trampled on. The orphans and widows are at risk of losing their daily sustenance or precarious place in homes.

The psalmist’s willingness to ask “why?” does not abrogate their faith in the righteous judgment of God. Pleading for justice and inquiring about its absence is the surest indication that it can and does exist, even if not yet realized. And because the psalmist believes God is indeed able to deliver it by calling us to account, it is worthwhile to ask why. To question is therefore an act of faith. Take a moment in this day to pause, survey your life and community, and consider where you might ask the more probing question “why?”

Prayer
Lord of life, you are great enough to hold our questions and outrage, the longing of our hearts and our unrealized dreams. When life is not as it should be, keep us asking “why?” Lead us to greater justice and righteousness. Expect much from us. Enable much through us. Help us better reflect your righteous love. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Minister for Evangelism

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