Scripture

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation—

    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
    to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Reflection

Everyone worries. Everyone deals with fear. And everyone doubts God from time to time. Yes, even Pastors. It is our response to these worries, fears and doubts that get us into trouble. Yesterday, we studied one of my favorite verses that tells us to pray about all of this, with gratitude and then trust God to provide peace. Unfortunately, as broken, messy humans, we sometimes respond to worry, fear and doubt in unhealthy ways - alcohol, drugs, pornography, overeating, overspending, lashing out in anger, self-harm and other destructive behaviors. We can abuse our relationships and hurt those around us, all out fear, doubt and anxiety. We may even give up on God, or believe God has given up on us.

Let me assure you that God NEVER gives up on us. No matter how awful we can be, how much we doubt, or how often we fail. There are times when this is hard to remember, when we are overcome with fear, doubt or worry and we do not know how to pray with gratitude as the scriptures instruct us.

In these times, I usually do a couple of things that might be helpful to you:

  • I make a quick gratitude list to remind me of what I have, rather than what I don’t have.
  • I write out my prayers to provide clarity of thought and clear my mind of the worry, fear and doubt that clutters it. I get specific with God about what I am asking for.
  • I pray scriptures. I find Psalms are the easiest, and most reassuring. In them, you see the ancient people and their doubts, fears and worries, but you also see their faith and God’s goodness.
  • I practice patience and trust. I remind myself that God is God and I am not. I remind myself that God loves me, and anyone I love, more than I do. I remind myself that God is good, all the time, even when I can’t see it.

When I do all of this, anxiety, fear and doubt begin to fade. And when I do it regularly, peace takes the place of all of those concerns. Peace. That is what we seek, and God is the only way to find it in its fullness.

Try the practices listed above the next time you find yourself with a heavy heart. Or create your own practices that lead you toward God and toward peace. If you have something that works for you, I would love to hear about it.

Prayer

Creator God, I give you thanks for the very breath of life your grace gives me today. I know I have no control over what will happen in it. I choose not to remain in fear, or dwell in uncertainty or anxiety about the possibilities. I chose to embrace this day without complaint, gratitude instead. I give this day, this life back to you. May you use me to bless others. In Jesus’ name,  Amen.