Note the cries for protection from the enemy in this psalm: “Deliver me . . . . rescue me . . . . save me.” We might add, “Save me from allowing my trust to be shaken when others oppose me.”
I have seen many laypersons, as well as ordained ministers, who give themselves to a life of Christian service with great enthusiasm, only to drop out after a few years. For a while we called that burnout. Simply put, they discovered people who seriously disagreed with them, even opposed them, sometimes within their own church! Because the reality in which they had to do ministry did not match their ideal, they gave up. Because they had to endure some failure and loss, they quit.
An authentic call from God remains valid no matter how many set themselves against us. Psalm 71 may give the impression that enemies constantly surround God’s servants. That has not been my experience. In fact, I give thanks for hundreds of people who have supported and encouraged my ministry. At the same time, we all will find opposition, perhaps even from those we perceived as cooperative.
One way to deal with being attacked is first to do what the psalmist does: Turn to God and put our trust where it belongs. That keeps us from losing our bearings. Next we listen to our opponent and seek to be reconciled. After we have done our best to restore harmony, even if that effort fails, we return to the work God has called us to do. Our God is a refuge but does not want us to cower when there is work to be done. We press ahead, singing God’s praise continually.
O God, take us in when we are bruised, make us strong to love those who hurt us, keep us on course to continue your work. Amen.
The Luke text portrays the healing that Jesus has just performed as a call to decision, a call to “repentance and changed lives.” Hebrews proclaims to the readers that they “have come . . . to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem . . . and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.” For Luke, Jesus and his wonderful works signal the accessibility of God’s transforming power and thus signal also the time for repentance. The accessibility of God’s transforming power is evident in the lessons from Jeremiah and the psalm, although Jeremiah has no choice! And amid opposition from the wicked, the psalmist af rms what Jeremiah had been told by God—that his life from its very beginning has belonged to God.
• Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. God offers light to a world covered in darkness. Where do you see God’s light in your life? How can you offer this light to others?
• Read Psalm 71:1-6. When in your life have you turned to God for refuge? How did trust in God help the situation?
• Read Hebrews 12:18-29. We belong to a kingdom that cannot be shaken. How does that realization help during dif cult times?
• Read Luke 13:10-17. How do the limitations we experience turn us to the power and grace of God?
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