Mid Week Devotion 5/27/2020 “How Long?”
Good morning, afternoon or evening, depending on when you are watching this mid-week version of our online church presentations. I want to extend a greeting to those of who who are joining in today, however you found us, welcome! My name is Pastor Mel, I trust you find this space comforting, refreshing and safe as we continue to journey through life in quarantine.
Let us continue to pray for the Beddingfield family on the sudden passing of Charlie. We had a nice service yesterday and the family is doing as well as can be expected. Carolyn thanks all of you for the calls and prayers. She, like all of us cannot wait until we can have church together in person again.
Prayers for Larry and Brenda Brown, former members of Centenary. Larry has recently been placed on hospice care. They remember their Centenary family fondly and would ask that we support them through a very difficult time.
Prayer requests for Barney Stock as he will be having hip replacement surgery.
Loving God, today we pray for a peaceful sense of assurance that we might never doubt You and Your plan for our life, our family our community and our world. Let us hold on to the promises of faithfulness and goodness. Remind us again that have already triumphed over the darkness. Continue to guide us on peaceful paths as Your Word gives us strength and encouragement through these difficult days. Help us to know good advice and counsel when we hear it, we are in strange times when many voices seem to hold the answers. Please, Lord, refill our faith with confidence to live through another day of of absence from our church. Amen.
Lord, be with us as we pray the words which you have given to us;
Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
For ever. Amen.
SCRIPTURE – Psalm 13
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me? 3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
DEVOTION: “How long?”
Can you empathize with the emotions of David as you listen to the words of Psalm 13? How do you hear his words today? Is he standing up, shaking his fist at the sky? Is he seated and lost in thought, focusing on a scene in the distance? Maybe he is on his knees, head hung low, feeling nearly defeated, barely able to utter anything more to God. I have seen each of these different images as I have read Psalm 13 in the past. I suppose it depends on my situation while reading.
David’s words seem to indicate that he is feeling all alone, not even God seems close to him. I see him in an emotional and spiritual corner. He has been pushed there by his ‘enemies.’ To me, the enemies of David are created mostly in his head. Yes, he did have real-life enemies, but his fear doesn’t seem focused on earthly death, but more spiritual embarrassment.
His perception is that the enemy will have the last laugh . . . on earth. He acknowledges that God will spare him in the afterlife, with salvation. David’s problem is a current earthly one. David knows there is a Heaven, but he feels all alone here on earth, surrounded only by enemies. Why do they seem to have the upper hand? I think David has allowed them to get under his skin, to chip away at the promises of God he knows to be true.
The enemy David is most afraid of is himself, he is afraid of coming up short before God. After all, God made a special way for David in this world. A way David could not have navigated all by himself. He knows God was the one leading him, but he now feels all alone and in this instance seems almost sheepish before God.
What do we sometimes do when faced with an obstacle that we have created ourselves? We attempt to find someone else to blame. Not too surprising that David includes God in those he holds responsible. He is not accusing God directly of causing his troubles, but he is telling God that he is upset with how long the help is taking.
David sounds like the child who has made a mess of their bedroom, then, after realizing the deadline for cleaning is drawing close, argues with their parents for not helping. “If you would help me, I could finish much sooner.” It’s not that God doesn’t empathize with David’s feelings, God has not changed throughout David’s life, David has. David’s perceptions are funneled through the strainer of the world around him, so he comes away with a filtered view of God. David has forgotten that God is the one who moves mountains.
When we become cornered due to fear or hurt pride, we start to believe less of our own complicity and more about how others pushed us here. I don’t see David blaming God, but I do see him attempting to separate himself from God. He seems to be saying, “I have done my part, where are you, O’ Lord, on your part?” He has forgotten that we are on the same team as God. Yet, when things go bad, we often distance ourselves from those on our own team. We can see this in our families, in political parties, in churches and elsewhere.
David, like most of us, needs to find a way to blame others for things he could be blaming himself for. He is feeling all alone because he has distanced himself from God, not the other way around. God has not stepped away from us, God is aware of the trouble and the hurt we are all facing. None of us are responsible for the coronavirus, but we are responsible for our response.
The history of human beings shows we struggle with the proper response. The history of God is to patiently wait until we figure it out. We have become so obsessed with finalizing things, and grow frustrated that problems are not brought conclusion quickly that we go to God and ask, “How long?” I want you to think that God looks back on us and asks the same thing. God must wonder, the same as those parents wondered, “How long will I need to wait for my child to figure that the mess in the bedroom is their own fault and if they just cleaned it we could all save a lot of time playing the blame game and pointing the finger.”
I believe God stands by ready and willing to help us clean up our messes. Yet, I also think that God waits to send help – to help us understand that you and I have a part to play in the grand scheme of things. We tend to focus on the work it takes to clean a dirty room, while God waits for us to focus on the attitudes that lead to the mess in the first place.
I truly think that God will help our nation heal from this disease, but the personal responsibility we have in our reactions to each other during this crisis – that is on us. Even then, even then, even then, we are not alone, the Holy Spirit of God is in us as we fight to respond, reminding us of the first two, and most important commandments: To love God and love your neighbor, the day we figure those out is the day we can probably stop asking, “How long?”
May God’s peace be with you until we meet again,
Stay safe and God bless.