by Jennifer Michael
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalms 55:22 (NIV)
I saw this scripture quoted on a Facebook meme. It appeared with a photo of someone who is in quiet meditation, peaceful and serene.
But since I don’t feel at peace or serene these days, the meme made me feel inadequate and somehow less than. So, being the church nerd I am, I wanted to look at the whole psalm to get a sense of the full message.
At the beginning of Psalm 55, the writer appears to be more like me. There is a plaintive cry to his voice when he says, Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea (v.1).
Who of us hasn’t cried out with that kind of lament these days? We grieve this pandemic and the injustices committed on people of color.
My heart breaks every morning as I watch the news: so much loss, so much loneliness, so much isolation. The psalmist describes my feelings when he says, Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest (v. 6).
Doesn’t that sound like a good plan, that we could escape this current situation and find a moment of rest–a moment of peace?
Turn to God
But then, after I turn off the news and begin my work for the day, I turn to God. The nature of my work brings me daily into the reading of scripture; into the thoughtful words of theologians and colleagues who speak of the gospel and God’s healing presence.
It is in those moments where I find my spirit renewed and lifted.
That made me think that this psalmist can indeed reveal something to us. Perhaps this Facebook post that made me feel inadequate led me to a deeper understanding.
In this psalm, we hear from someone who long ago had the same feelings we do today. He, too, experienced distress, fear, isolation. Then, he also had that moment when God’s word resonated and reminded him that the Lord would sustain us. The Lord will never let the righteous stumble.
In this lesson, we learn how turning to God in this time of struggle helps us survive.
Participating in faith practices—daily reading of scripture, personal prayer, and quiet meditation—will not remove our fears or feelings, but they can provide hope.
I encourage you to think about what spiritual practices are part of your daily life. Find moments where you can feel God’s presence and hear God’s voice.
Knowing that God is with us strengthens my resolve to get through one more day, to tell myself to be patient, to seek out connections with people even at a distance, and to continue to live as if the gospel is true.
May God bless you on this day and provide you with that which will sustain you.
The Rev. Jennifer Michael is pastor at Saint Peter Lutheran Church, Battle Creek, Mich. She was president of Women of the ELCA’s executive board from 2011-2014. Michael originally wrote this as a FaithChat video message for her congregation.