Even When It Hurts: March 3, 2021

Even When It Hurts -- Lent 2021 Devotional Book

Read: Psalm 7

O Lord my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me.
-Psalm 7:1

No one I know enjoys feeling powerless. This truth is as timely today as when the Psalms were being written. The images in verse 2 are of being like the prey of a lion, surely to be killed and torn apart, then dragged away with no help in sight. It would be as if one never existed.

In modern terms, there is a big trunk of feelings to unpack here! Powerlessness is one of the most difficult things for us to endure as humans, and often it is replaced with anger. Many experts suggest that the recent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, for example, illustrates what violent rage a majority losing the death grip on control might do to preserve their power. Scorched earth. Death and suffering to those who disagree. “If we can’t have it, then no one will.” Bone-chilling examples abound.

The psalmist goes on to reflect a sense of contrition and repentance, stating that if he has behaved as his pursuers, “if there is wrong in [his] hands”, then God should allow him to be overtaken. It seems to be an Old Testament understanding of the Golden Rule, going so far as to present deliverance as a gift given in return for kindness. I sense his comfort from the realization that behavior is a choice and there’s hope in doing the right (righteous) thing.

We can choose to do the same: to refuse to let negative experiences turn us into people who continue the cycles of violence—physical, emotional, spiritual—seeking revenge rather than forgiveness and peace. True peace, not a false peace offered by those who would continue to marginalize the “different” ones.

As a victim at least three times of violent crime myself, “gay-bashing” by common reference, there came a point where I was faced with three choices: harden my heart and tighten my fists to fight back punch by punch, ignore my heart, and retreat to solitary powerlessness and perpetual fear, or open my heart in forgiveness that would return life to my wounded spirit.

By the grace of God, I was able to choose the last.

O God, help us to look to the cross and desire the kind of forgiveness Jesus himself chose for those who crucified him. Amen.
-David Sloat