July 6, 2021
Clergy, Smoky Mountain District
81 My soul languishes for your salvation;
I hope in your word.
82 My eyes fail with watching for your promise;
I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
83 For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
84 How long must your servant endure?
When will you judge those who persecute me?
85 The arrogant have dug pitfalls for me;
they flout your law.
86 All your commandments are enduring;
I am persecuted without cause; help me!
87 They have almost made an end of me on earth;
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your steadfast love spare my life,
so that I may keep the decrees of your mouth.
The 176 verses of Psalm 119 cover the wide sweep of God’s Torah: laws, decrees, precepts, statutes, commandments, ordinances, word, and promise. In the verses that make up the text for today’s devotion, we find a description of the days in which we are living. There are many souls that are languishing. Many people wonder how long they can endure under present-day conditions. Many live under the burden of being persecuted without cause. It is often tempting to give up and give in. And yet in the midst of the struggles we all face, the invitation to endure is always present.
In the New Testament Lesson for today, James, the brother of Jesus, reminds us of the endurance of Job. In the second chapter of Job we find these words: “The Adversary departed from the Lord’s presence and struck Job with severe sores from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. Job took a piece of broken pottery to scratch himself and sat down on a mound of ashes. Job’s wife said to him, ‘Are you still clinging to your integrity? Curse God and die.’” In spite of the suffering that Job was experiencing, he continued to hold on to his faith. When we suffer physically, emotionally, spiritually, we could easily say, “I quit.” But Job – with the help of friends who sat with him for a week – refused to give up.
The struggle that David reveals in Psalm 119 is a reminder to us that we all live in the steadfast love of God. Even when we face that which could make an end to us on earth, with God’s constant presence we can keep our faith in the One who walks with us every step of the way. The only obstacle is when we forget that we belong to God and that God is on our side. Remember what Paul wrote to the Romans, “If God is for us, who can be against us!” Whenever we feel that there are those who are against us, claim the promise that “God is for us!”
Loving God, on this day we offer ourselves again to you. In whatever we face hold us close and keep us safe. We pray in Jesus Name! Amen.