What Are You Looking At?
You are still sitting on the steps. You hear the dryer buzz, but you can’t make yourself get up to go fold the laundry. You have gone over and over the problem. God has been silent. “It really isn’t my fault,” you tell the Lord. “If she would just see what she is doing.” Tears well up in your eyes.
It is easy to give in to the temptation to blame others or indulge in self-pity. “O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt,” writes the psalmist. “I’ll say,” you comfort yourself. The humiliating scorn of others is a bitter experience.
At any given moment the spiritual journey presents us with a kaleidoscope of options for action and attitude. Which options come from God or lead to God? Which lure us away from obedience and the way of love?
In the Bible the wise person stops worrying about what to do, stops placing blame or trying to figure things out. The wise person simply looks to God. Wisdom has a lot to do with where we look, what we give our attention to. The psalmist is backed in a corner, an object of scorn and derision. Is his focus on the persecutor? No. “To you I lift up my eyes,” he proclaims. My attention, my focus, is on God—not on my enemy or my wounds. I trust in God’s mercy. I fix my gaze on God while I await the mercy that I am absolutely certain will come my way.
Merciful God, help me lift my eyes from my predicament and frustrations to fix my attention wholly on you. You will not fail to bring me comfort and help. I will trust in you alone with all my heart and not rely solely on my own insight. Amen.
Like us, the Israelites struggle to be consistently faithful to God. God therefore allows a foreign king to rule them until the people come to their senses and cry out for help. The prophet Deborah gives instructions for the battle that will begin the deliverance of the people. The readings from Psalms and Zechariah demonstrate that this pattern of unfaithfulness and restoration has occurred frequently in the history of God’s people. In Thessalonians, Paul echoes what Jesus says in last week’s Gospel reading: We must always be prepared for the return of Christ because we do not know when it will occur. God gives us resources to use for the kingdom, and in Matthew Jesus indicates that God will ask for an account of how well we have used them.
Read Judges 4:1-7. Who has been a judge—someone who helps you discern—in your life? How can you help others discern the way?
Read Psalm 123. How do you focus on God through conflict and struggle?
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. When have you encouraged someone in a time of darkness? When have you been the one in need of encouragement?
Read Matthew 25:14-30. What would change if you considered your dreams and desires as from God? What first step can you take to enact your desires?
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