Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.
You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
I looked up at the stars tonight. Sometimes the heaviness of life, as it drones on, lowers my eyes to scrutinize each trepidatious step. So much so that I often forget about the stars. I forget that even my posture unfolds as I turn my eyes starward – opening my body and shifting my perspective. He is still there, in the stars above, in the air I breathe, and even in the places before me where my feet have not yet fallen. He is in all of it, yet how well am I able to take Him in? Where is He in the desolation of suffering?
Understanding suffering and deriving a purpose from it has been a stumbling block in my faith journey. It leads me to cast my eyes downward. I find myself regularly questioning God in the face of suffering as I slowly slip away from Him, entrenching myself in hypervigilance over all the things I will have to do to fix this mess I find myself in, and blaming Him in the process. Yet at the same time, I hold this to be true: God loves all His people. There are countless biblical and post-biblical accounts of God’s compassion for the oppressed: gentiles, Greeks, slaves, prostitutes, tax collectors, the doubter, the diseased, and even the dead are renewed by His loving mercy.
There is an old hymn, “O Christ, the Healer” (Fred Pratt Green), which recites:
In conflicts that destroy our health We recognize the world’s disease; Our common life declares our ills: Is there no cure, O Christ, for these?
This stanza is a cry of desperation. The tension I’m experiencing drips in and between its lines. When the pain becomes personal, I plead with Him to see the pain I’m in – the pain of those I love. I wonder, “Is there no cure, O Christ, for these?” I know God personally. I know He can heal – I’ve seen Him do it – in me and in others. When He doesn’t move in the ways I want Him to, I fall prey to the spirits of comparison, control, and doubt.
As the stars have shown me, this is a posture I have adopted. It is a posture of distrust. By contrast, on the cross Jesus’ posture is splayed open. Forced open, you might say, by the hands of men – by our worldly disease. But did man create this posture for Jesus, or does it just so happen that it providentially reflects the vulnerability and humility of God’s Son in His willingness to walk whatever path God the Father chose for Him? He is open. He is receiving. He trusts. He is at peace. He wants this disposition for me, too. And while I see glimpses of it, He works on my heart still, and so I wait on His grace.
Let us pray: Humble Father, let my fear of losing love not strip me of the Love that is before me always. Open my eyes to the starlit moments Your grace provides. Open my body to receive You in Your warmth and in Your weeping. Open my mind to the unveiling of hope. Father, lead me forward on the path of Life.