Slow your breathing and become aware of the taking in and letting out of your breath. Focus on putting things aside so you will be open to what God is saying to you today.
Psalm 7 (NRSV)
O LORD my God, in you I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers, and deliver me,
or like a lion they will tear me apart;
they will drag me away, with no one to rescue.
O LORD my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my ally with harm
or plundered my foe without cause,
then let the enemy pursue and overtake me,
trample my life to the ground,
and lay my soul in the dust. Selah
Rise up, O LORD, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake, O my God; you have appointed a judgment.
Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered around you,
and over it take your seat on high.
The LORD judges the peoples;
judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.
O let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
but establish the righteous,
you who test the minds and hearts,
O righteous God.
God is my shield,
who saves the upright in heart.
God is a righteous judge,
and a God who has indignation every day.
If one does not repent, God will whet his sword;
he has bent and strung his bow;
he has prepared his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
See how they conceive evil,
and are pregnant with mischief,
and bring forth lies.
They make a pit, digging it out,
and fall into the hole that they have made.
Their mischief returns upon their own heads,
and on their own heads their violence descends.
I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness,
and sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
Children are bullied physically and psychologically via social media. Elderly people live fearfully in communities saturated with gangs. Innocent people are gruesomely tortured, raped, and murdered by religious extremists who baptize their atrocities in the name of their faith. Evil is real, but not new. The ancient psalmist struggled with the unnerving clash between righteousness and wickedness, good and evil.
How do we negotiate these treacherous waters? There is no easy answer. We can live in fear and seek to protect ourselves from what we deem to be evil. But that stance can be a slippery slope, for it becomes easy to see evil lurking behind every bush. Fearfully, we can be tempted to brand anyone different from ourselves as evil. Building walls, deporting masses of people, and arming ourselves suddenly seem to be appropriate responses.
The psalmist suggests a different path: honest dialogue with God, opening one’s life to divine scrutiny, and reliance upon our righteous God. The poet doesn’t act to eradicate wickedness, but trusts in God to act in saving ways. While not an easy stance, especially when we’re surrounded by threatening circumstances, scripture typically calls for faith instead of fear.
We pray, dear God, for people who daily face fearful and daunting circumstances. Give them the faith to endure and please act on their behalf. Show us all ways to become people of faith and peace. Amen.
Go with God.