Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 20. (MsgB)
God answer you on the day you crash…
I believe it was St. Ignatius who told his disciples to not just turn to the scriptural texts that comforted them, but to turn to the texts that troubled them as well.
Well, St. Iggy. Here it is. A troubling text. A frustrating truth. A sentence so problematic, I’m tempted to skip right by it and go on to the nicer part of David’s psalm. Quite honestly, St. Iggy, this is a truth I’d prefer to ignore completely. A truth not taught much in Christian circles today. A truth that keeps me up at night, pondering its’ meaning.
Oh, how I’d love to go on to these following verses that comfort me…
The name God-of-Jacob put you out of harm’s reach,
Send reinforcements from Holy Hill,
Dispatch from Zion fresh supplies,
Exclaim over your offerings,
Celebrate your sacrifices,
Give you what your heart desires,
Accomplish your plans.
But here I am, Ignatius. Stuck here pondering this troubling truth found in verse 1 part A of Psalm 20! And since both St. Ignatius (and God) just won’t let me by-pass this hard little ditty, I guess you, my dear reader, will have to suffer along with me today as I ponder this phrase. So here it is, once more, in my own words this time. A troubling truth that grits me greatly:
As a follower of God, I will most certainly have days when I crash and burn. Days that can only be described as terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.*
There, I said it. Keep in mind that I don’t like it. Nor do I claim to fully understand it. But here’s the sad thing. This verse in Psalm 20, written by King David, reminds me of Jesus’ troubling comment to His friends found over in the New Testament:
“In this world, you will have trouble.”
Yikes, Jesus. It’s one thing when the Old Testament states it, but did we really need to hear it from You as well? I mean, if this concept of a follower of God having horrible days is found only in the Old Testament, I might be able to explain it away! Write it off as ‘lesser’ texts. Misnomers that slipped by the editor and now replaced with New Testament victorious theology.
But here You are, Lord, basically saying the same thing to us today that King David told his people 1,000 years prior to Your birth! So what’s a follower of Jesus to do with this troubling little truth? How can we live with this sad news that despite our best efforts, this life will still contain terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days? Well, as it is with all scriptural texts, I need to read the verse I’m pondering in context. And when I do that, I find that there is great hope midst the deep despair. King David, for example, prefaces his troubling truth with the phrase ‘God answer you on the day…” In other words, in the midst of trouble, the follower of God can know with a certainty that our Creator/King stands at the ready to come to our rescue on days when the stuff hits the fan! And then, of course, when read in fuller context, Jesus’ sad news that we will have trouble in this world (see John 16: 33), we will find these words of hope surrounding Jesus’ troubling text…
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Ahh, yes. I think I’m feeling a bit better now. While, at first glance, these troubling truths can shake my confidence in God, I’m now beginning to see what Ignatius might have had in mind here. Maybe as I take the extra time to ponder on these troubling truths, God can come and bring His blessing and comfort to my soul, even in the midst of days when I crash and burn? Balm to my burning wounds. Peace to my troubled heart. Comfort to my stirred-up soul. God’s blessing into my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Hmm. Yes. I AM feeling better now! How about you?
*thanks also to Judith Viorst and her little friend, Alexander, for informing me about those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days we all experience as children of God!
My prayer: Lord, I certainly don’t like it when You say that I will have days when I crash and burn, but I do take great hope that You will be there on those days, to bring peace and comfort to my soul on those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So how can I improve my ability to wrestle with difficult truths found in God’s Word? Words and truths that I’d rather ignore? Am I confident in God’s ability to bring additional clarity and comfort if I will only take the time to wrestle with these difficult truths?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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