Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stomp, pout, huff, whine, tantrum, etc.

Ordinarily I try to use this blog for devotions, reflections, or rants of my own, but this morning's "God Pause" devotion from the Luther Seminary was one that really hit me right between the eyes so I thought I'd share it here.

How often do we get to feeling like the brother who stayed home and worked in the story of the prodigal son? It's not that I don't want to do the right thing or work hard and make sacrifices, and I'd like to think that I try to do right either just because it's the right thing to do, or because it will benefit the most people, not just myself, or in gratitude for all God's done for me- not to try to earn His favor or for any kind of material reward. Be that as it may, it still grates on my nerves that it seems like there are so many people who have it so much better, or who really don't care about anyone but themselves or doing what's right- yet it almost seems like they're shallowness and selfishness is rewarded, not punished.

So once again, I end up asking God to help me be content because I know that His grace is sufficient. And again and again, He reveals to me just how blessed and coddled I am. Like the two pairs of missionaries who spoke at our church. One couple in one of the most densely populated, lease Christian, and most impoverished places in the world- Calcutta, India. Another couple inn one of the most dangerous, most plagued with sectarian and tribal tension and violence between Muslims and supposed Christians in Jos, Nigeria. And here I am complaining about not being able to lose weight or not being able to suddenly become a rich and famous, award winning professional writer. Perspective, people, perspective.

Tuesday, 7/20/2010 Psalm 73:[3-14] 23-28

"It's NOT fair!" What parent hasn't heard these words? They are often sputtered with quivering lip, hot tears, crossed arms, and, maybe, a stomped foot. Reading Psalm 73 (particularly vv. 3–14), I almost hear the psalmist, Asaph, lamenting, "It's not fair!" as he looks from a society outside, across the fence into the green grass of affluence, privilege and power. As today's socioeconomic disparity increases, it is understandable that our neighbors and, perhaps, we ourselves, may increasingly cry, "It's NOT fair!" It isn't fair. God is pained and angered when justice and kindness are ignored, when God's children are disregarded.

Guided by God, Asaph resists temptation to act violently and oppress others. He decides the longed-for prosperity is not worth estrangement from God. As the parent might hold the tearful child's hand to comfort them, Asaph feels God "hold [his] right hand." Asaph proclaims, "it is good to be near God." Indeed, it is good. 

Dear Heavenly Parent, thank you for holding our hands and being our refuge. Guide us to hold the hands of our neighbors, share our resources, and include them fully in our communities. Amen.

Mary Simonson Clark, Lutheran Malaria Initiative Coordinator, Minneapolis Area Synod, Master of Arts/Master of Social Work, 2007

Psalm 73:[3-14] 23-28 (NRSV)

3  For I was envious of the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4  For they have no pain; their bodies are sound and sleek.

5  They are not in trouble as others are; they are not plagued like other people.

6  Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them like a garment.

7  Their eyes swell out with fatness; their hearts overflow with follies.

8  They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression.

9  They set their mouths against heaven, and their tongues range over the earth.

10  Therefore the people turn and praise them, and find no fault in them.

11  And they say, "How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?"

12  Such are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.

13  All in vain I have kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.

14  For all day long I have been plagued, and am punished every morning.

23  Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.

24  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me with honor.

25  Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.

26  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength  of my heart and my portion forever.

27  Indeed, those who are far from you will perish; you put an end to those who are false to you.

28  But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, to tell of all your works.
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