This monthly column is written to those who are suffering today, and I mean suffering in a big way. If you are not suffering, be thankful; then, share this article with someone who greatly needs the assurance of God.
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living;
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:13-14
These final verses of Psalm 27 are intended to give the reader / listener confidence and courage. The twelve verses before these two implore of the Lord …when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!”(v. 7); however, the author knows that the Lord is righteous enough to …hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble (v.5). The author has a realistic hope in God because the author has a realistic understanding of the human frailty of a heart weakened by fear.
What makes you fearful? What circumstances do you face routinely that serve to bring destruction to your sense of a healthy relationship with God and with others? “I’m not good enough for God” one will say; another will quip sarcastically “I have no idea what God sees in me, because I don’t see anything in me.” Yes; sadly, these are actual comments I’ve heard over the years from people. They just don’t seem to have a handle on how to love themselves.
As a former instructor in behavior modification, I know that the mind is conditioned beginning from birth to react to positive and negative images, words, reinforcements, and even facial expressions. Children who live in a violent home develop differently from those who live in a peaceful home, for example. Enter in such factors as race, demographics, poverty, health…well, let’s just say there is no wonder how deeply all these factors play in human development.
Yet, God is our constant. Yes, I could tell you that your suffering would end if you would just pray harder or would ask for more faith, but then that wouldn’t be either the biblical or Lutheran response you would deserve. Rather, find your strength – your confidence – in the One who dwells in you and with you in the land of the living, and whose love for you will flood your heart with courage if you will but wait for the Lord.
Believe in one of the very basic tenets of our Lutheran understanding of faith: it can and will sustain you. Turn to God in prayer; ask not for a quick fix or for answers that don’t matter in the long run. Rather, ask for the strength to withstand your suffering and for the patience to make it through just one more day. Ask God not for your problems to go away but for the Spirit of Truth to come to you in the form of a helpful friend or of a kind member of your family. Know that you are not alone in your grief; know that the Lord’s very understanding of humanity includes Jesus’ knowledge of human suffering. In fact, I would say that no one in history understands human suffering more than Jesus does.
Turn to those who have loved you before. Turn to those who have provided for you before. This is not a time for pride, and this is most certainly not a time for hiding. Be bold in the Holy Spirit and be confident in the Lord by asking for a loving response from your family here at Redeemer. We love you; always remember that.
Let your heart take courage,