Greetings! As I contemplate these cloudy days, sometimes I am struck by what seems to be a cloudiness of soul. There is so much that concerns all of us in this day and time as we still struggle with the pandemic, as we see natural disasters become more frequent, as we see our country struggle with justice and governance and as we deal with illness and loss. Sometimes the fear and anxiety is too much for us to express and we don’t know where to turn. This is a good time to turn to God in prayer each day. Turn to God to lift your concerns that are heavy on your heart. And then finish your day with praise and thanksgiving that will remind you that God does not forget us or leave us to our own devices. Too often though we don’t have the words so I would like to suggest that you turn to the Psalms each day and take a few minutes to reflect on God’s presence from the beginning of time. The Psalms contain a wealth of human emotions that people have experienced in all situations of life since the beginning of time. Times of pain and sorrow are accompanied by times of joy and celebration, so how do we respond to God when things are very, very good as well as when things are overwhelming? I am offering a number of Lament Psalms as well as Psalms of Praise and Thanksgiving for you to read when you are at a loss for words.
Lament Psalms recognize that life is tough and they often are brutally honest, meeting you right where you are. God can take our tears and our anger because God has been dealing with it for centuries! Here are some you might turn to when you are down or disturbed: Psalms 12, 4, 5, 14, 22, 28, 42, 53, 139, 88.
Psalms of Praise and Thanksgiving are helpful when our hearts are full of gratitude to God for God’s presence, grace and blessings. A good way to end the day is with Praise and Thanksgiving. Even when the day has been difficult it’s good to reflect on joy found in God who has promised to be with us through all things. Here are Psalms to remind you of God’s faithful presence: Psalms 8, 19, 23, 33, 66, 67, 95, 100, 103, 117, 145, 146, 147, 150, 30, 32, 34, 40, 92, 116.
I recently read an article by Sheryl Sandberg who is a member of the board for Disney, the parent company of ABC News and who lost her 47 year old husband to a freak accident. There were times she didn’t think she could go on without her husband but with the love and encouragement of friends she was able to write the following: “When I first lost Dave, I felt overwhelmed with just getting through each day,” My friend Adam Grant suggested that every night before bed I write down three things I did well that day. I tried to do this, although some days I had such a hard time thinking of anything I did well that I’d end up listing ‘Made a cup of tea.’ But over time, focusing on things I’d done well helped me rebuild my confidence.” She persisted and after some time had passed she wrote that she plans to “write down three joyful moments each day. I want to choose life and meaning over death and tragedy and live life without my husband as best I can, So I will try to focus on finding joy in the mundane and the profound—joy in the small things that make my children smile, joy in the moments of friendship that might otherwise pass by unnoticed, joy in the ability to appreciate the gift of life in a way I never did before,”
Even in the face of tragedy, we can learn to appreciate God’s gifts and presence in ways we might not have before. God knows that life as we know it can be painful. God also wants for all His children peace and joy that God waits to give us. In the coming days, spend some time in the Psalms, offering to God your fears, your pain, your thanksgiving and your joy! Let’s begin with words from Psalm 100: Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Giving thanks to God for all of you who so richly bless my life!