Several years ago, I began a new job thousands of miles from family and friends. Not long after settling in, the peculiar rhythms and challenges of the position left me lonely, regretful, and in despair. After a particularly hard day I confessed to a friend that I had no idea how I would make it through the remainder of my contract. She listened, prayed with me, and promised to keep believing and trusting in God’s goodness toward me even if I struggled to do so. A week later, she sent me a few words of encouragement she had scribbled on the back of a napkin. She continued sending similar notes every week for the next several months until I found myself on stronger ground. Her messages rarely said much beyond a few words of scripture or a reminder of some event in the past in which God’s presence had been palpable in my life. Over time, I found myself more attuned to the presence of God around me. Above all, the notes reminded me of the ways in which God has always made a way out of seemingly no way—from the dawn of creation until now. When I couldn’t remember, she did it for me.
The act of remembering has long been a foundation for God’s people, especially amid slavery, exile, or oppression. Psalm 78, which speaks to this tradition, is an act of remembrance and a call to hope. When circumstances suggest otherwise, recounting God’s faithfulness helps the Israelites see beyond their despair into the truth of their faith, even when they struggle to believe. Perhaps, most especially when they cannot believe. Don’t give up. You are in good company—the company of the saints in light.
Meditate on a word or phrase in today’s psalm. Write it on a slip of paper, and keep it with you throughout the day.
For the second time this year, we read the story of the Israelites complaining in the desert about water, only to see God provide a miraculous spring. The psalmist reminds the people of the many powerful deeds performed by the Lord, including leading them through the sea out of Egypt and providing them water from the rock. Paul emphasizes to the Philippians the need for humility and unity. In quoting the earliest known Christian hymn, Paul encourages them with the example of Christ, who gives up all his rights for the sake of others. In back-to-back encounters with religious leaders, Jesus evades an attempt to trap him in his words and then teaches that true obedience is shown not by our speech but by our actions.
Read Exodus 17:1-7. When have you tried to “do it all”? How can admitting your limitations help you lead?
Read Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16. Recall times when you have known God’s presence. How might remembering and retelling these stories shape your faith?
Read Philippians 2:1-13. How does your life speak of God’s love for you and for all humanity?
Read Matthew 21:23-32. How have you created your idea of Jesus in your own image? What would change if you found your identity in Jesus rather than creating Jesus’ identity from your own?
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