What can you do when your heart is heavy with concern for someone you love? I have a colleague who is dealing with the murder of his daughter and her unborn child. An arrest has finally been made, and we are praying that justice will prevail. Another friend is watching her marriage crumble after decades of being together. A neighbor is struggling to negotiate the depths of her mother’s dementia, and a young woman I know has just received the news that the baby she is carrying has Down Syndrome. When someone you care about is hurting, you hurt.
A few days ago when I woke up early to write, this Psalm popped up in the lectionary assignments for this week. I had already been reminded of all four of these situations before I logged into my lectionary library, and here was David’s reminder for all of us about what we can do in the heaviest of situations. Before you read it, think about what is troubling you today, and pray that God will enable you to lay that burden down at the foot of the cross. Then read this as his answer to you:
Psalm 16 (Common English Bible)
Protect me, God, because I take refuge in you.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord.
Apart from you, I have nothing good.”
God is our only place of refuge when we are in trouble. I remember once being chased by bullies on the way home from school one day. This may be the moment when I happily discovered that I am a decent runner. All I kept thinking was that as soon as I reached my house and the safety of my mother, I would be okay. David is reminding us that we can run home to God whenever we are in trouble.
3 Now as for the “holy ones” in the land,
the “magnificent ones” that I was so happy about;
4 let their suffering increase because
they hurried after a different god.
I won’t participate in their blood offerings;
I won’t let their names cross my lips.
David has realized that following after people who don’t follow after God is a fruitless and useless pursuit. Does that resonate with you today?
5 You, Lord, are my portion, my cup;
you control my destiny.
6 The property lines have fallen beautifully for me;
yes, I have a lovely home.
This brings me such comfort! To know that all these people I have been praying for are completely being cared for by the Lord, who is the one who controls their destiny, is a blessing beyond measure. It also reminds me that God is God … and we are not.
7 I will bless the Lord who advises me;
even at night I am instructed
in the depths of my mind.
8 I always put the Lord in front of me;
I will not stumble because he is on my right side.
9 That’s why my heart celebrates and my mood is joyous;
yes, my whole body will rest in safety
10 because you won’t abandon my life to the grave;
you won’t let your faithful follower see the pit.
My prayer for you today is that you can tap into the kind of relief that David describes when he says that his heart celebrates and his mood is joyous knowing that his whole body will rest in safety. Our life crises are not beyond God’s reach! God is on our right side.
11 You teach me the way of life.
In your presence is total celebration.
Beautiful things are always in your right hand.
I hope you can take a moment to breathe into that last line: beautiful things are always in God’s right hand. Even in times when you can’t see it, they are there. Lord, give us insight and patience as we wait for our vision to clear. Your presence with us is a total celebration … thanks be to God.