For God alone my soul waits in silence.” The psalmist offers healing for the world-weary soul. In the midst of an uncertain and violent world—if we are still, we may hear the psalmist’s voice urging us to trust in God. The opening two verses of the psalm bear a striking resemblance to verses 5 and 6 of today’s reading. Verses 3 and 4 lay out the problem facing the psalmist: He feels assailed, battered, and surrounded on all sides by people who pay lip service to God while deceiving others. Nothing less than pouring out his heart before God will do as he affirms the unshakable foundation of his life. His images of God are more than metaphors meant to be stitched onto a pillow: rock, salvation, fortress, refuge. They are strong, trustworthy. In verse 8, he reminds the members of his community to trust in and to “pour out [their] heart before [God].”
Often church people foster the idea that we can separate our theology—our words and beliefs about God—from the struggles and pain in our lives. For the psalmist, our trials may be the very place where we develop an authentic relationship with God—a relationship in which we experience God as refuge and place of solace. We may find ourselves asking, “How long?” as does the psalmist in verse 3. How long must we remain in a situation of abuse? How long will people delight in falsehood? We face the rawness of our emotions and the pain of our economic or political realities and discover the ultimate rest and security that come in trusting God. In the midst of trials and trouble, we calm our soul. In the silence, God calls us into relationship, and we move from where we are to where God longs for us to be. When we become vulnerable, God can use us.
Strengthening God, empower us to pour out our hearts and lives before you as we trust in your protection. Amen.
Things are not always as they seem. To Jonah it appears that the people of Nineveh are beyond hope, so he runs away rather than going to preach to them. God has other plans; to Jonah’s surprise, the Ninevites turn to God. To our eyes, social standing and wealth may seem to divide people into different classes; but the psalmist declares that in God’s economy, all are equal and will be repaid the same. Paul echoes the theme of the temporary nature of all things in this life; they should not be our source of security. Jesus opens his ministry in Mark by proclaiming that God is breaking into history to overthrow what has been accepted as the way things are. Sometimes God’s perspective is not our perspective.
• Read Jonah 3:1-5, 10. When have you experienced God’s call to a task you would have preferred not to undertake? What happened? What did you learn about God?
• Read Psalm 62:5-12. When have you experienced God as refuge and fortress? How do you actively embody God’s hope and offer it to others?
• Read 1 Corinthians 7:29-31. How lightly do you hold your job, your relationships, your possessions, given the passing nature of the present age?
• Read Mark 1:14-20. When have you heard Jesus call to you to follow? How did you respond?
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