May 3, 2021

May 3, 2021

May 3, 2021

Psalm 80/ Galatians 5: 16-26 NIV
Sarah Wimmer
Laity
First UMC Maryville
Smoky Mountain

Psalm 80/ Galatians 5:16-26 NIV

1 Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
    shine forth 2 before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might;
    come and save us.

3 Restore us, O God;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

4 How long, Lord God Almighty,
    will your anger smolder
    against the prayers of your people?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears;
    you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
6 You have made us an object of derision[b] to our neighbors,
    and our enemies mock us.

7 Restore us, God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

8 You transplanted a vine from Egypt;
    you drove out the nations and planted it.
9 You cleared the ground for it,
    and it took root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
    the mighty cedars with its branches.
11 Its branches reached as far as the Sea,[c]
    its shoots as far as the River.[d]

12 Why have you broken down its walls
    so that all who pass by pick its grapes?
13 Boars from the forest ravage it,
    and insects from the fields feed on it.
14 Return to us, God Almighty!
    Look down from heaven and see!
Watch over this vine,
15     the root your right hand has planted,
    the son[e] you have raised up for yourself.

16 Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire;
    at your rebuke your people perish.
17 Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
    the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
18 Then we will not turn away from you;
    revive us, and we will call on your name.

19 Restore us, Lord God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

Devotion

So often, we try to make sense of our trauma.  Our tragedy. Our pain and confusion.  As we read the words of the psalmist, it is possible to at times place ourselves into his world.  Perhaps during the pandemic, it has been tempting to wonder if God has forsaken His people.  Many have shed bowlfuls of tears.  Tears for lost lives, lost incomes, lost social connections.  Lost opportunities to connect with friends at our churches. 

To process the traumas, we seek to make sense of the pain.  Even as young children we learn to do this.  Consider how kids are known to ask about the color of the sky, about why we cannot eat ice cream for dinner and, during these days, why they cannot see their older loved ones.  We, as humans, seek to ask and answer these questions because when we think we understand we feel satisfaction.

Years ago, I worked in a behavioral health facility.  As with other jobs, I learned many lessons there.  The people who kept asking "why” or looking for someone to blame, often experienced very little or no progress towards recovery from depression or anxiety.  I remember this lesson as I read the psalmist’s words.  Although not directly asking “why”, the psalmist is, in essence, calling out to God for supposedly turning His back on His people.

Oddly, I do something different than the psalmist when I’m in pain.  I find that if I focus on the errors and troubles of the world, I recognize my own pain.   And when I fall into pain, I often feel closest to God.  I see God as a refuge from the pain of this world.

Let us remember that asking “why”, and blaming, often keeps us stuck.  Instead, may we choose to work on developing our faith.  When we are moving forward with devotion, worship, prayer, meditation and Bible study, we can perhaps let go of asking “why” and instead, enjoy the Fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22.  The problems and pain of this world won’t disappear, but we will be better prepared to cope. 

Prayer

Father God, I pray for a closer commitment to my faith practices.  During times of trauma, fear and pain, allow me to pull from the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.  Lord, I ask your Spirit to draw me closer through my faith practices.  Amen.

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