As I write in the summer of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is at its height. People are getting sick. People are dying. People are losing their jobs. The economy is going in the tank. Above all, people are afraid. We all stay in our homes, hunkered down, wearing masks if we go out for groceries, trips to the pharmacy, or to see the doctor. Some people are angry because of closures.
You remember those times. They may have become better after I wrote this. Or they may have become worse. Either way, they left their mark on you.
So you can understand the psalmist when he pleads with God for help. “Deliver me,” the psalmist says. “Rescue me. Save me.” That’s the way we felt, too. “Help me, God! Deliver us from this pandemic. Don’t let me lose my job. Keep my family safe.”
Life is sometimes not “the best” for either the psalmist or us. But notice one thing: The psalmist never gives up on God. The psalm begins by saying, “In you, O LORD, I take refuge.” God is the rock and fortress on whom the psalmist builds his life. God is the source of his hope. Like Job, he cries out to God for help but never doubts God. From the time of his birth, he has learned to lean on God.
These were words of hope as I began writing in the middle of a pandemic. God is faithful. God is the source of our hope. God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want, but God is always present for us. In times of fear, when hope seems absent, when life is not good to us, God sustains us.
O God, teach me always to trust in you. Amen.
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures share a common theme of calling. Jeremiah is called at a young age to be a prophet. God knew and set apart Jeremiah even in the womb. The psalmist also expresses confidence in God’s call, because God knew him even before he was born. In the same way, God knows each one of us and has a plan for our lives that is not an afterthought. In this First Corinthians passage (often read at weddings), Paul speaks of love. But this love is not infatuation and is not based on emotion. It is intentional, strong, gritty, and unselfish. In Luke we see that many struggle with the fact that Jesus’ calling is also to serve the marginalized. Jesus reveals that God has a missional heart.
Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. What is God calling you to do? How does your passion intersect with the world’s needs?
Read Psalm 71:1-6. God promises not to make our lives easy or perfectly safe but to be with us when we face challenges. In a world that seems increasingly violent, how do you find assurance of God’s continuous presence?
Read 1 Corinthians 13. God calls us to a vocation of love. How can you be more loving in your daily work or activities?
Read Luke 4:21-30. How do you see God’s call in those you know best? How can you look to minister to the outsider and the oppressed?
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