12 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He grants peace within your borders;
he fills you with the finest of wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down hail like crumbs —
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his ordinances.
Praise the Lord!
~Psalm 147:12-20 (NRSV)
TRUST. I struggle with trust. I hear in this psalm a call to trust, and it frightens me. It makes me vulnerable. To trust means to admit that I cannot do it myself, that I need help. It forces me to consider what God has done through the nation of Israel (not to be confused with the modern state of Israel), into which I have been welcomed by God through Jesus Christ.
The gates of hope and freedom have been flung open, but it is too much and I see how I and so many are trying hard to close them back up. But what God offers is good and healing and hope-filled. Why can’t I trust it? Why am I so beholden to self-reliance, when I know it is a false god that I was brought up to worship. Self-reliance is a myth in that we are all interconnected in ways that none of us can fully fathom. I do not grow my own food or make my own clothes, nor am I experienced enough to work on my own car or fix the street lamp that flickers on and off next to our house. I am dependent on others who know things I don’t—not to say they know more than I do, nor do I know more then them, we just know different things. Our differences—from preferences and tendencies to attractions and desires—is what makes us a community, and that is one of God’s greatest gifts because we cannot do it all on our own. We need one another.
But what if my trust is violated. It hurts so much. I am afraid of being hurt again. I build the wall around my backyard to keep others out and protect me and my family. The scars around my heart have become a wall and so many of the wounds I have experienced have not yet healed, and I am afraid. Being in community with God and others is hard and scary work. And yet, as God invites us to live wholly by living holy, we are called to live in relationship and to be guided by values of mutual care, compassion, and love; to see the “other” as my neighbor and seek to be a friend.
I am scared. Are you?
God of hope and wholeness,
you call us to a new way of life,
but we are frightened.
We have been hurt before,
and we struggle to trust you,
let alone one another.
You offer good things,
in ignorance we ignore them.
You offer hope,
and we cannot trust it.
You offer sustenance,
but we would prefer to find our own.
Heal us. Heal me.
Make me a channel of your peace,
so that others may find the strength
to learn to trust again
and not be afraid.
Make me a channel of your love,
so that the wounds of others may be healed,
and the scars may flake away,
so that we might be able to receive again,
one another’s love,
one another’s care,
one another’s compassion.
Make me a channel of your healing,
so that we can live again,
trusting the promises you have made,
trusting that it will be alright,
trusting that I am not alone,
trusting that we are not alone.
give us hope,
give us healing.