As the only Black student in my high school graduating class, I was accustomed to occasional snubs. Thus, at a recent class reunion, some who shunned me in high school did the same. Was it because of race? Why were they still not bothering to say hello? I wasn’t sure. Yet I insisted on going. With my skeptical husband in tow, I vowed to take a hard look at my past—to pin my name tag on my sweater, my yearbook photo affixed, acting as if I belonged.
In fact, I did belong. I reminisced and reconnected with many old friends. To my surprise, I also made new friends. One varsity football player came over to talk to me about race, of all things. We’d never exchanged two words in high school, but he asked my opinion on how racial healing happens.
Listening to him, I marveled at how social taboos and racial awkwardness had blocked our friendship as teens. Then I considered that, in the 60s, my classmates and I had struggled to integrate a society while watching friends go to Vietnam and come home in body bags, our world still torn. Other classmates had left us too. Accidents, illnesses, and life came calling. We who were still here looked joyful and grateful. So, on the drive home, I confessed to my husband an unexpected epiphany. “God kept me.” Despite the racism and more, “God sustained me.” Indeed, God sustains us all.
The sons of Korah came to a similar conclusion. “For you are God, my only safe haven” (NIV). Despite the shame of their father’s rebellion, these temple attendants each knew God as “the source of all my joy,” their life and hope. Despite storms, may we discover God this way too.
In our storms, Lord, thank you for keeping us even before we know you are God. Amen.
The fact that we trust in God does not guarantee that life will be easy. Believers suffer discouragement as well. Elijah is a powerful prophet of God who faces profound discouragement. He looks around and sees faithlessness and desolation, as does the psalmist wrestling with his own sense of despair. In both cases the person’s spirit is revived—by divine visitation to Elijah and by the psalmist’s self-talk about the truth of God’s faithfulness. The New Testament readings take us in a different direction. Paul speaks of the freedom we have when we are in Christ, heirs to all of God’s promises. The Gospel writer tells of another kind of freedom, the freedom experienced by a man delivered from demon possession.
Read 1 Kings 19:1-15a. Recall a time you ran to a silent place. How did God send you back into the world?
Read Psalm 42. The author asks us to imagine the words of this psalm coming from the mouth of Elijah and the Gerasene man. Consider how these words might be yours as well.
Read Galatians 3:23-29. How does your faith in Christ help you to realize that there is freedom in unity rather than to flee in fear?
Read Luke 8:26-39. What true story do you have to tell to the world of what Jesus has done for you?
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