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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, October 23, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 43

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people;
from those who are deceitful and unjust deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you cast me off?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because of the oppression of the enemy?

O send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy;
and I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God. (NRSV)

Both-and. Not either-or.

That’s what I really love about this psalm. It recognizes and names the “both-and” nature of our lives. The psalmist feels both abandoned by God (“Why have you cast me off?”) and confident in their relationship (“Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy”). Psalm 43 acknowledges that many days we will be “disquieted” and “cast down,” even while resting ultimately in our hope in a saving and faithful God.

Sometimes I feel like I should be better than that: Given the relative ease and comfort of my life, I never have the right to be downcast. Most of the enemies who oppress me are of my own making. My problems are pretty trivial in the scheme of things. War, racism, and poverty are evils that have not kept me from becoming who I was created to become. I am a lucky duck.

And yet. Psalm 43 (like so many of the psalms) gives us permission to be human: to be honest with God and ourselves so that we do not get swallowed up by moments of doubt or desperation or rage or fear. The prayers let us cry out (or whine or moan) while they also help us to maintain perspective. This psalm is a prayer for each of us, and all of us collectively, to lament the areas of our lives and world that are not as they should be and,  in the same breath, to express our faith in the God who will make them right.

O God, my God, listen as I pour out my trouble. Be with me in pain and sorrow, and lead me with your light and truth. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator, Center for Life and Learning 

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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