To You, O God, I offer my life;
In You I trust, O my God;
Do not let me be defeated by the world around me;
Do not let my adversaries destroy me.
(Psalm 25:1-2, from The Psalms in Worship, by Mary Susan Gast)
“I don’t think much of your God,” said a Bible study participant.
“What do you mean, ‘your God’? Isn’t it ‘our’ God?” said another.
“What kind of God would ever let someone be defeated by the world? Why is that even a option to plead for? Why would I pray to a God who is making choices about whether to let someone be destroyed? It’s too cruel and God is too capricious.”
“That would be cruel, yes. I think capriciousness or cruelty means it isn’t God.”
“But that’s what the psalm says.”
“Maybe that’s how bad the fear is. Bad enough to make it seem as though God is hanging back. Maybe the fear can get so big, so opaque you can’t see God.”
“Why would God allow it?”
“I’m sure that whatever caused the fear was not God’s doing. Maybe fear exists because you can’t get rid of fear without getting rid of love? Because the answer to fear isn’t safety, but love?”
“I’m not sure that’s enough.”
“Maybe it can be enough to keep praying the psalm, together?”
“Maybe it can.”
God, you are the power of love and the reach of light. Pierce our fears. Illuminate our shadows. When we don’t find the assurances we yearn for, hold us together in good company with each other, and with the mystery of you. Amen.
John A. Nelson is Pastor and Teacher of Church on the Hill, UCC, in Lenox, Massachusetts.