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Finding Hope and Strength in the Psalms

A Lent Reflection for Holy Tuesday, March 26 by Tamara Ravello


Lectionary reading for 3/26/24: Isaiah 49:1-7  •  Psalm 71:1-14  •  1 Corinthians 1:18-31  •  John 12:20-36

Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 71:1-14


Read

Psalm 71, 1-16 The Message

1-3 I run for dear life to God,

I’ll never live to regret it.

Do what you do so well:

get me out of this mess and up on my feet.

Put your ear to the ground and listen,

give me space for salvation.

Be a guest room where I can retreat;

you said your door was always open!

You’re my salvation—my vast, granite fortress.


4-7 My God, free me from the grip of Wicked,

from the clutch of Bad and Bully.

You keep me going when times are tough—

my bedrock, God, since my childhood.

I’ve hung on you from the day of my birth,

the day you took me from the cradle;

I’ll never run out of praise.

Many gasp in alarm when they see me,

but you take me in stride.


8-11 Just as each day brims with your beauty,

my mouth brims with praise.

But don’t turn me out to pasture when I’m old

or put me on the shelf when I can’t pull my weight.

My enemies are talking behind my back,

watching for their chance to knife me.

The gossip is: “God has abandoned him.

Pounce on him now; no one will help him.”


12-16 God, don’t just watch from the sidelines.

Come on! Run to my side!

My accusers—make them lose face.

Those out to get me—make them look

Like idiots, while I stretch out, reaching for you,

and daily add praise to praise.

I’ll write the book on your righteousness,

talk up your salvation all the day long,

never run out of good things to write or say.

I come in the power of the Lord God,

I post signs marking his right-of-way.


Reflect

As Holy Tuesday unfolds, we find ourselves immersed in a journey of reflection, prayer, and spiritual contemplation surrounding Christ's sacrifice and resurrection. It is a time that reminds us to seek solace, renewal, and hope intentionally in the midst of life's complexities. More likely than not, most of us know and can attest to the certainty that life is full of ins, then there come the outs; it's up and sometimes down, and we will see highs, and, at the same time, lows, and none of us are exempt. Understanding this truth, let us enlighten our hearts and minds to the words of Psalm 71:1-14, drawing hope and comfort from its timeless wisdom.


The chapter starts with a heartfelt plea from the psalmist David, saying: "In You, O Lord, I put my trust; Let me never be put to shame." The message version says the same thing this way: I run for dear life to God, and I'll never live to regret it. Do what you do so well: get me out of this mess and up on my feet." What David's declaration embodies here for us is the vulnerability and resilience of the human spirit when God is at the forefront of our life. Let's expound a bit more, but before we do, if you don't get anything else from this reflection, be encouraged to understand this upfront: with God, you win! It doesn't matter how the situation presents itself at this moment; you have the victory!


But, can I tell you what the challenge is, though we know you already have the victory? The challenge is that we, as humans, can be very stubborn. Too often, we try to do it on our own, figure it out on our own, or handle it on our own without God, and when it gets too tough, it is then that we turn to the Lord. We make it much more complicated than it should be, and we don't have to do it this way. Turning to God should be our first option and not a last resort. We have a God who is always present and ready for us to come; all we must do is acknowledge and ask. David models for us in this scripture that there is no shame or guilt in going to God. In fact, he demonstrates for us that we should always run to God for dear life, and the shame comes when we don't go to God. Can you think about a situation maybe on a job, or with a child, partner, friend, or in church, or something like a poor financial decision that possibly could have had a positive or different outcome had you engaged God first? Maybe had David gone to God first, the story about him and Bathsheba would have looked different. Her name probably would not have been BATH-Sheba; get it (BATH)? Okay, on the corny jokes, let me get back on track with our reflection for today.


The psalmist goes on in the passage to proclaim a steadfast trust in the Lord, affirming, "Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go." This unwavering faith and confidence in God's unfailing love serves as an anchor for our own spirits, assuring us that we are never alone in our struggles. Even as our surrounding world appears uncertain and stormy, we find reassurance in the unchanging nature of God's love and willingness to be there for us.


Then, in the latter verses of the psalm, the psalmist reflects on a lifetime of experiences, recounting God's faithfulness and providence in the face of trials. This retrospective perspective invites us to recognize and celebrate the ways in which God has been our constant companion, sustaining us through every season of life. It is a testament to the enduring power of our hope in Christ, even amid life's complicated circumstances. It is a reminder that if God did it once, God can do it for you again, so hold onto your hope.


As we meditate on Psalm 71:1-14, may we find encouragement in the enduring truth that God is our refuge and strength, a present help in times of trouble. May we draw hope from the assurance that our tears are not in vain, for we serve a faithful and compassionate God who hears and responds to our deepest needs. Let us hold fast to this hope, knowing that the promise of redemption and new life through Christ's sacrifice sustains us through it all and leads us to a future of renewed hope and joy if we only turn to God. May this reflection offer comfort, strength, and renewed hope as we continue our journey through Holy Week and embrace the promise of Easter's dawn.


Respond 

As you reflect on today’s devotional whatever you are carrying run to God for dear life! Choose to surrender it, the person, and / or the situation to God while holding the truth that you are not in this alone. The Lord is with you!

 

Rest 

Dear God,

As we reflect on today's devotional, we come before you with open hearts. In moments of doubt and burden, we run to you for dear life, seeking refuge in your unwavering love. We choose to surrender all that weighs heavy on our souls, knowing that we are not alone. With faith in our hearts, we hold onto the truth that you walk beside us, offering comfort and strength through every circumstance. Thank you for your constant presence and boundless grace. 

Amen.

 

About the Author 


Tamara F. Ravelo’s roots are the Quechan Indigenous Nation (pronounced Kwuh-tsan), where she proudly represents her Indigenous culture. Her grandmother Denise Dugan was an Indigenous boarding school survivor. Hence, Tamara, family members, and her community constantly encounter its generational challenges. Because of this, Tamara often says she is the hope of her ancestor’s prayers. In turn, she endeavors to impart that hope to others wherever she goes.


Tamara has an earned master’s in business (MBA), is a Yale University MDiv graduate and acquired her accredited diploma for congregational ministry from Andover-Newton Theological Seminary. By day she serves as Chief Operating Minister for celebrity healer Iyanla Vanzant and Companies. Then, through the Evangelical Covenant Church ordaining ecclesiastical body, she is endorsed for public ministry. 


Tamara loves prayer and creating spaces for others to heal; however, that may come. In her other life, she is a business administration guru and communications strategenius, specializing in marketing, branding, graphic design, web, publications, and other forms of media. Tamara doesn’t do it alone, she is wonderfully loved and supported by her husband, the esquire Michael Ravelo and her daughter Stephanie.




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