Even When It Hurts: March 11, 2021

Even When It Hurts -- Lent 2021 Devotional Book

Read: Psalm 28

Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who are workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while mischief is in their hearts.
-Psalm 28:3

I feel bad for the psalmist. So many of his laments would indicate he’s had a rough go of it. It seems he has plenty of enemies – more than enough to go around. The psalm contains three stages: “don’t forget me”; “give my enemies what they deserve”; and “thank you (for my deliverance)”.

I don’t know that I have ever felt abandoned by God. I’ve certainly had rough times, and there have been times I’ve decided God doesn’t exist – couldn’t exist. But those are my realities; they aren’t the ultimate reality. If there is a God like the one we proclaim, then I know that God never leaves or abandons those God loves (and God loves everyone). I believe that if God were to forget me, I would simply vanish without a trace. Since I haven’t, I have confidence God hasn’t forgotten me. That’s good news (for me, at any rate).

While I have been mightily vexed by enemies real and imagined, I have never actually prayed for their demise. I always think of prayer like a boomerang. What one sends forth comes back, and I don’t want my prayers coming back with a vengeance. So, I pray for God to soften my heart, bless me so that I may be a blessing to others, and so on. I have found that to be much more uplifting, even when I hurt.

God, you taught us to pray “deliver us from evil.” I presume that was for a reason. It is so easy to want burning coals to be heaped upon the heads of those who torment us; but to be completely honest, I don’t like how I feel when that happens. I find that sort of giddy delight soils my soul; I’d prefer you to purify me and my thoughts. Deliver me from evil. Amen.
-The Rev. Keith Axberg