Even When It Hurts: February 25, 2021

Even When It Hurts -- Lent 2021 Devotional Book

Read: Psalm 86

The arrogant rise up against me, O God, and a band of violent men seeks my life; they have not set you before their eyes.
-Psalm 86:14

No, it’s not just paranoia. Think of the first children: Abel really did find favor with God, and Cain did kill him.
We are living through a difficult time politically. Especially notable is the inability for the people of this country and our elected leaders to deal with each other with respect and a willingness to cooperate. Rather than that, we seem to have grievances: you are my enemy and you treat me badly/unfairly/dishonestly!

Seeing others as “enemies” and oneself as victims of those enemies – has it always been thus? And if so, how are people of faith supposed to deal with that?

The psalmist in Psalm 86 wants us to know that there are really bad people out there and they are out to get him. They are arrogant. Violent. Have not set God before their eyes.

So how do we see those “others?” Are they the problem? Are we the reasonable ones who are just seeking God’s will? Confession? It’s oh so much easier to confess the sins/faults/damage of others than it is to confess the sins of oneself. In fact, telling about the evildoers seems to be pretty satisfying to our psalmist. I know I fall into a similar rut of grievance and blame all too often.

The “I” of the psalm establishes himself as the innocent victim. Then he enlists God’s help with a litany of all that he is doing to be on God’s side. Contrast those evildoers with myself, suggests our psalmist. “I am faithful.” “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.” “I will thank you, O LORD my God, and I will walk in your truth.”

And without hesitation, the psalmist praises God’s qualities: good, forgiving, great, gracious, full of compassion, full of kindness and truth.

God is all that. I am not; perhaps even you are not. Our great teacher once told us to remove the log from our own eye before we fret with someone else’s eye splinter.

Lord, the affairs of humankind seem difficult. We need your saving actions to open us up and draw us into your purposes and dreams. Amen.
-Tom Worrell