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Friday, October 7, 2016
God is my strong salvation;
what foe do I have to fear?
In peril and temptation
my light, my help is near.
Though hosts encamp around me,
firm to the fight I stand;
what terror can confound me,
with God at my right hand?
Place on the Lord reliance;
my soul, with courage wait;
God’s truth be thine affiance,
when faint and desolate.
God’s might thy heart shall strengthen;
God’s love thy joy increase;
mercy thy days shall lengthen;
the Lord will give thee peace.
James Montgomery’s “God Is My Strong Salvation” (tune: Wedlock)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
It helps to know that the words of this hymn are based on Psalm 27. If the twenty-seventh psalm is familiar to you, you’ll recognize “The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear?” Reading the words of both the hymn and the psalm makes me think about war and fighting. I resist, because war and fighting seem to be all around us. I imagine a soldier in the midst of fierce battle, reciting over and over again “God is my strong salvation; what foe do I have to fear?” But I imagine certain members of Congress saying the same.
Admittedly I’m not crazy about the fighting images these words evoke, because I wish discord and threat were not so prevalent in our world. And yet life presents battles of all kinds. What are yours? Preserving or earning enough money for retirement or unexpected health care costs? Living each day without the spouse you lost too early? Gaining enough courage to confront someone who has hurt you deeply? Providing the right care for a disabled or mentally ill child?
The hymn reminds us to “place on the Lord reliance.” In some of our struggles, that’s absolutely all we can do. And then there’s the issue of “waiting.” Sometimes there is a lifetime of waiting for a struggle to be resolved or a challenge to be conquered or a grief to be healed. “My soul, with courage wait.” It takes a lot of courage to wait for God’s answers, to trust in God’s leading, to claim God as our salvation. I like the instruction in the psalm itself: Wait for the Lord.
Dear God, remind me that you are my strong salvation no matter what challenge or discord or battle I face. Give me strength to wait for mercy and grace, for the unfolding of your plan in my life, for the peace that you promise--the peace that only you can give. Amen.
Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care
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