“O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge on the day of trouble.” Jeremiah 16:19
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair.” 2 Corinthians 4:8
Each day I get up, go downstairs, turn on the coffeepot and step outside to pick up the newspaper. It’s a quiet, peaceful time. But I’m wary as I unbag the news and brace myself for “what next”. These are days of troubles. A school in Uvalde, Texas, was not a stronghold. Families watching a parade in Highland Park, Illinois, could not find refuge. People in Ukraine are afflicted in every way. As I sleep comfortably, feeling safe in my bed, secure in my trust in a loving God, things are going very wrong.
Our trust in God’s love and grace does not ward off the ravages of life. We are human beings, vulnerable, mortal. Even as we sing hymns of praise and faith, even as we say Bible verses expressing strength and trust, we are afraid of suffering, loss and loneliness, and “what next”. Illness, weak legs, failing mind; rising costs, crime, social unrest in general.
It’s hard for us to separate body and spirit, what it means to be “well with my soul.” We are downcast and justly outraged by violence and inhumanity. Our confidence may be shaken but we are not numb with despair. We were not called to live isolated in fear but openly with love and justice.
A friend recently told me about a church he visited in Germany. Centuries ago artists and masons figured out how to paint a mural of Christ from birth to resurrection, windows placed so the sun would rise upon Jesus’ birth and follow his life throughout the day. The sun does not set upon his death … but upon the resurrection. It’s “what’s next.”
Our “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”, give us courage to face each new day with confidence in your presence in our lives. Help us see the goodness in people and the Earth, and the courage to act where compassion and understanding are wanting. May our souls be at peace in your safekeeping. Amen