The Way Out of No Way
“O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good, For God’s steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom God has redeemed from trouble. . . . God delivered them from their troubles and led them by a straight way.” – Psalm 107: 1-16
The author of Psalm 107 is thankful for many things—the hungry being fed, the prisoners set free, the sick healed. He or she sums it up in one line: “God delivered them from their troubles and led them by a straight way.”
We may never have been truly hungry or imprisoned or even sick for more than a few days. Thanks be to God! But I suspect we’ve all been lost at times. If not lost, then faced dead-ends, not able to see the way ahead.
Those dead-ends come in all kinds of forms. The pink slip at work. The program whose funding is cut. The doctor’s diagnosis. The umpteenth phone call from our child’s counselor. The divorce papers.
The psalmist tells the truth about human life. Troubles and heartache are part of the deal. Whether we’re raising kids, running a business, working for the government, or simply trying to “do justice and love mercy,” life sometimes is perpetually “one step forward, two steps back.”
But the psalmist tells another truth—about God’s presence in human life. The psalmist reminds the people of Israel how God has fed them, freed them, and most of all, led them throughout their lives.
In his Strength to Love, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King offered the same reminder. After yet another death threat, King affirmed, “Only God is able to give us the interior resources to face the storms and problems of life . . . . When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember there is a great benign Power in the universe whose name is God (who) is able to make a way out of no way, and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. This is our hope for becoming better [people]. This is our mandate for seeking to make a better world”
And this is our way out of no way. Thanks be to God.
God, some of us face dead-ends in our jobs, others in our relationships. Some simply can’t see the way ahead. Help us, Lord, to trust that you are able—able to lead us into life, able to show us the way out of no way. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Worship for Vital Congregations, published by The Pilgrim Press.