In Your Hands
My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. – Psalm 31:15 (NRSV)
In a time of distress and division, our fears are accentuated by the constant questioning of who – people or institutions or media – we should and should not trust.
In case we believe this kind of thinking is new, we only need to turn to the psalms to find that people have always been divided; persecution and the fear of it are woven into the human experience.
Walking around my neighborhood last weekend, I saw a group of people gathered around a grill, greeting new arrivals to a party. I felt alarmed on their behalf. Could they possibly all be quarantining together? Then I became alarmed for myself. Could their social gathering spread coronavirus droplets on the breeze, as the scent of their outdoor cooking also wafted toward me? As a person in a high-risk category, I grew so anxious that I had to stop after I turned the corner and remind myself to breathe.
Was my anxiety realistic? Maybe not on a scientific basis, but I will not minimize the reality of fear. There are plenty of places where a walk in the neighborhood, a trip to the park, or a Saturday morning run can end in death, not by infection, but by violence, often fueled by racism or transphobia. People beloved on earth and in heaven are lost to those who long to see them again. The suffering of grief, both present and anticipatory, is painful and real, and it will remain as long as we remain divided, as long as power is used to harm rather than heal.
Holy God, in fearful times and situations, we are in your hands. Save us from our enemies and persecutors. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, new from The Pilgrim Press.