Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lamentations 2:10-18; Psalm 102;
1 Corinthians 10:14-17, 11:27-32; Mark 14:12-25

Psalm 102 speaks of deep emotional and physical distress. It describes what I once experienced in a time of great anxiety – sleeplessness, neglect of food, and the kind of loneliness that left me alienated from all that is warm and secure. At a time like that, everything narrows down to the hard reality of personal anguish. The writer of this psalm, though, took time to ponder what God’s life had to do with his experience. He knew something of God’s character and promises, and these widened the writer’s perspective to reshape his view of his situation. With God in the mix, he found meaning in his experience and hope for a blessed future, “that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.”

How often I need reminding that my experience today is not the only defining reality. This psalm testifies that God’s presence is real in times of great trial. Yet this moment is but one piece of a tapestry across and within the sweep of history through which God is working restoration – especially in torn and broken places. Although he is “enthroned on high,” God is attentive to “hear the groans of the prisoners.” I know this to be true, as in my job I have encountered many prisoners whom God has profoundly met. God is not helplessly bound by the narrow meanness of human experience; he is working transformation in and through it. Sometimes we see it. Sometimes we, like this psalmist, anchor our hope in the character of God to believe for a future we cannot see.

This Holy Week, as we consider the events culminating in Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection, may we hold fast to what these events show us about God’s redeeming love. The psalm observes that temporal things are ever-changing but proclaims that the creator-God remains the same forever. His good purposes are sure. Despite the valleys of human suffering, there is certain hope. As we commit ourselves to God’s love and life, we, too, are part of that story that ends with a shout of joy and life in God’s presence, forever and ever.

Karen Strong

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