This past year was one which proved hard for many, or at least it seemed that there was more attention placed on difficulties. Perhaps there was financial trouble. Perhaps school and classes proved more strenuous than you thought they would. Or perhaps the attitude of the nation just brought smaller troubles into sharper focus.
For me, at least, hard times make it even harder to practice Lenten disciplines. If I am having trouble balancing school activities, I will often forget to read the Bible. If I am under a lot of stress, it is tempting to again take up habits I may have given up. And I expect this year will be particularly stressful -- school stuff has piled up, and, honestly, my sophomore year has just been harder than I expected it to be. So, when a passage like Psalm 144 comes up, I can’t help but smile; Psalms of praise always make me smile, but especially so when times are hard.
My favorite sections of this Psalm are verses one, two, and nine. The first section speaks about how God is able to strengthen us in the face of trouble, and the second section speaks to our praise of God. It seems a beautiful and apt juxtaposition. Similar to the Eucharistic prayer which asks that we be delivered “from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal,” it is hard to fully revive ourselves only through supplication and protection; a great renewal can be found in praise of our Lord.
May we find this time of Lent to be one in which we find renewal amidst hardship.