Answer me when I call to you,O my righteous God.Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.How long will you people turn my glory into shame?How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him. In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.Many are asking “who can show us any good?”Let the light of your face shine upon us, o Lord.You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace for you alone,O Lord,make me dwell in safety.
Yesterday was quite a day. Yesterday was an uplifting day. I preached for one of my professors and a classmate. I was given gracious and encouraging feedback then we all went to lunch.
Yesterday was a hopeful day. As I drove to Chattanooga for the wedding of a friend, I listened to Christmas music and my thoughts turned to hopes for a love story of my own.
Yesterday was a teary day. I stopped at Subway for a break from driving and cried alone in my car as I ate my sub, while reading the news of the day’s events. Tears of sorrow were replaced with tears of joy as I watched my good friend marry his perfect match.
Yesterday was a discouraging day. We watched with few words and many questions as our fellow Americans suffered great and tragic losses.
The joys of the day, for me, were well-celebrated in the moment, but inevitably, the despair was right there, waiting: for the joy to be over, for the sadness to overwhelm.
In this place, at the crossroads where joy and despair intersect, where we find the psalmist, asking the same question that many are asking:“who can show us any good?”It’s the end of the day. The temperature starts to drop as the sun begins to set. A pleasantly cool breeze softly curls around the trees, the lamp posts, the rooftops of the local businesses, and the people walking home from work, school, or play.“We’re open” signs turn off, and the lights illuminating the entrances to local businesses go out at the same time. Shop owners come out, lock up, and head home for the evening.
The steady line of people moves along, each to his or her destination. Some exchange small talk, others walk in silence.
A good distance behind the crowd, a loner. Apparently lost in thought, and meandering at a relaxed pace, the psalmist heads for home, stopping for a moment to look at a tree, bare branches outstretched toward the sky, strikingly contrasted, yet beautifully complemented by the sky at twilight.
After a long day, and a long walk home, and a simple dinner of Lean Cuisine pasta and salmon, the psalmist heads upstairs.
Sprawled across the bed, journal open, the words begin to flow as the pen hits the paper.
“What an insane day. A school shooting. Kindergartners! Please, don’t let it be so. I don’t even know what to do, how to feel, what to think, say or pray. This, on top of everything else in my life: bills piling up, health problems, career choices to be made, and life in general is officially too much.
I feel alone, but I know I’m not. I just wish my heart could know it now.
In the midst of this despair, the psalmist declares trust in God:trust in God’s ability to set things right,
trust that God will hear this prayer,
trust that God will bring freedom from distress.A pause.The psalmist looks up from the paper, deep in thought, pen resting for a moment at the top of the open notebook.
“People keep asking me where the good is in the world, and what they’re supposed to do. I don’t know! All I can really offer is a word about the security I’ve found in God that defies even what I could ever hope to understand.”The psalmist looks down, pen to paper again, and the prayer continues to flow, this time as an encouragement to friends:“Don’t freak out when bad things happen to you, and don’t let it throw you off track when things don’t work out like you planned. Don’t be anxious, pull yourself together, and trust in God.”Night falls over the house, and the bedside lamp is almost too dim to light up the page. It’s completely dark outside. So, the prayer comes to a close, as the psalmist settles in for the night
remembering that this night will be shrouded in peace and safety, because the psalmist’s joy in God’s acceptance, God’s deliverance, God’s security, is enough.
The psalmist will sleep, wrapped in the peace of God.
And so we have, the answer to our question.“Who can show us any good?”The answer is found in the peace of God,that transcends understanding and circumstance,
the peace of God that makes us dwell in safety,
the peace of God that restores our joy.let this peace of God rule in your hearts,
let this peace of God wrap around you, like a blanket, as you lie down to sleep,
let this peace of God remind you that you dwell in safety.
May we be people of God who bring
hope to despairing victims of tragedy and loss,
joy to hearts that ache with concern,
love to the overlooked,
and peace, to a broken world desperately seeking safety.