In Psalm 13, we read: “O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? “ (Psalm 13:1-2)
There are many who would similarly cry out to God given the troubles and tragedies we have experienced or witnessed in recent days: the discovery of hidden graves containing the remains of Indigenous children; violent acts often stemming from bigotry of all kinds; record temperatures and destructive wildfires that are, in part, the result of unchecked climate change; the burning down of churches and other acts of vandalism; the stresses and strains of a 17-month long pandemic; not to mention personal troubles, illness, and disorienting change.
And yet the psalmist concludes with these words: “But I will trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because the Lord has been so good to me.”
The Psalmist admits to the sorrowful situations of life but also proclaims the joy of life in the knowledge and presence of God.
This is part of the pattern, the rhythm of life for us as Christians. Jesus said: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Jesus also said: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” Jesus is saying, there is trouble; there is fear; there is disruption and lack of peace. Yet, we are to remember that God is with us, around us, within us to comfort, to strengthen, to transform, to enliven, to resurrect.
In these challenging, changing times it is vital that we achieve a proper balance between participating empathetically in the suffering of the world and finding joy in our daily living. In this summer season, in this time of diminishing pandemic restrictions I urge you to find the abundant life that God wants for you. Find it in summer outings; vacation time well spent in the company of family and friends; or just in the simple pleasures of life – observing or experiencing the bounty of God’s good creation; enjoying a cup of coffee in your favourite chair, patting a beloved pet curled up at your feet or in your lap; giving or receiving a kind word; engaging in an interesting conversation; hearing the laugh of a child; noticing the sparkle of sun on water; the colour and movement of flowers in the wind; listening to a favourite song; watching an entertaining movie; cheering a favourite sports team; the list could go on and on forever it seems.
As Scripture says, there is a “time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to love and a time to hate….” (Ecclesiastes 3)
My prayer for you in this summer season is that you will find the time to laugh; the time to dance, the time to embrace, the time to love – and to be loved. My prayer is that you will accept God’s gift of a deep joy and an abiding peace that transcends all the troubles of the world and of our lives.
Praise and thanks to our glorious God!