The states of confidence and doubt are jarringly juxtaposed in
this psalm. How can the psalmist go from praise to impassioned
pleas for a glimpse of God’s help? How often do we go
from the spiritual high of Sunday morning to forgetfulness the
rest of the week? the joy of devotional time to stress about life?
Knowing God’s nature, knowing God loves us and offers us salvation,
doesn’t mean we feel no emotions. We still grieve, still
doubt, still feel anger or abandonment or sorrow while having
faith in God.
So often we feel guilty for these feelings. Shouldn’t my faith
sustain me? The psalmist has not the least bit of guilt. He moves
from confidence to despair without transition. He seems unaffected
by the shift of declaring his faith and then stating his
problems with equal confidence. He isn’t afraid to be honest
Sometimes I lack the psalmist’s courage; I find myself trying
to be “good enough,” with super faith, no doubts, and definitely
no problems. Then I don’t have to face my sins or my uncomfortable
emotions. The psalmist gives me hope. He doesn’t fear
expressing his feelings to God—the good and the bad. He’s
willing to explore those emotions with God, to pour them out
and wrestle with them.
We need not fear either. We can explore our deepest emotions
and secrets, our ugliness and beauty and joy and pain
with our God: God the light, shining into our darkness; God
the refuge, protecting us when we can’t bear the pain of truth
any longer; and, most of all, God our salvation, reaching out to
us with love and concern whether we’re confident or terrified,
faithful or straying.
What parts of yourself are you afraid to talk with God about? Why?
The image of light figures in three of the texts. Light not only illumines but brings a changed situation. The psalmist’s confession links light with salvation. The Gospel lesson expresses deliverance in terms of the nearness of God’s reign, which overcomes diseases and distortions. Light permits well-being. Light is the mode of God’s presence.
• Read Isaiah 9:1-4. When has God called you out of the darkness of an old habit, a familiar circumstance, into the light of new opportunity for ministry?
• Read Psalm 27:1, 4-9. Do you feel more comfortable talking with God about your joys or your pains? Is there need for more openness in either?
• Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-18. In your faith community, when have members found themselves at odds over priorities of no eternal value?
• Read Matthew 4:12-23. Put yourself into the story. What do you hear, see, feel, or smell? How have you answered the call of Jesus?
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