Reflections in Lent: Psalm 121 and letting go

Where do you turn for comfort? What takes that sting out of all the little things that hurt in life? What do you do when you lose a loved one or miss an opportunity or have a falling out with a friend or spouse? How do you dust yourself off and start again? This is perhaps the hardest part of life. Change is inevitable. It blows through our lives often times when we least expect it. Part of the changes that routinely take place in our lives is the loss and struggle cycle. Nothing, nothing lasts forever. Sometimes that is comforting. I mean if I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life pregnant I wouldn’t have the strength or patience for it. Its just not something that I could endure forever. The good thing about the ever changing nature of life is that I know I only have to hold out so long before this part of my life will be done and a hopefully happier time will ensue.

Psalm 121

A Song of Ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and for evermore.

Our Lenten Lunch Series kicked off this past Wednesday. The first speaker was Stanley Goldstein. He chose Psalm 121 to discuss with us because it is one he enjoys. Each week we are focusing on a different Psalm. I’m really excited about this series. It is always so uplifting. Stan did an amazing job with his talk. He talked a little about the Psalms in general and how they are used within the Hebrew community. Psalms are songs, yes, but they were often and still are chanted because in its origin the Hebrew language and Aramaic (which the Psalms are primarily written in) to help people remember them. This Psalm is one I particularly enjoy. It is one that is often associated with the burial office due to the parts that illuminate the comfort of the Lord keeping us now and tomorrow and forever more. That has got to be comforting to a grieving family of devout people to think that even though their loved one is no longer with them, he or she is somewhere better being cared for by the great comforter.

I like to think of this Psalm in times of change. Often people cite this Psalm when bad things happen. They say “why did you allow this or that God?”. You said you would keep me from all evil. Stanley mentioned the case of the jews coming out of the holocaust angrily asking if God is always with us where was he then? I tend to think that this Psalm is telling us that God is there no matter what evil the world thrusts in our direction. Corrie Ten Boom wrote a book about her holocaust experiences that also make me think of this Psalm. Even in the midst of some terrible trials and persecutions she hung onto this idea and it gave her comfort which she desperately needed.

What brings you comfort in times of dire need?



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