By Rebekah Bolin
Lectionary reading for 4/7/2022: Psalm 31:9-16; Isaiah 53:10-12; Hebrews 2:1-9
Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 31:9-16
Psalm 31:9-16 NRSV
9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye wastes away from grief,
my soul and body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,[a]
and my bones waste away.
11 I am the scorn of all my adversaries,
a horror[b] to my neighbors,
an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many—
terror all around!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
16 Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love.
Grief sucks. There is no other way to describe it other than to use explicit 4-letter words. It can feel as small as a pestering sad thought or feel as big as a gigantic monster attacking your core inner being while jumping on your chest like it’s on a trampoline. It is a lonely, depressing place. And like the Psalmist says, the anguish can drag on for years, at which point all those around you have completely forgotten you and/or your pain. Many times, in grief, it feels as if no one else can possibly understand what you, and only you, have gone through. Like I said, it sucks.
The past few years have been full of grief for millions, if not billions. The pandemic has turned many lives upside down. And on top of a global pandemic, there are the unexpected, grief-inducing, gut-punching situations thrown at people. For me personally the last couple of years have felt like my first paragraph. I lost my beloved dad to cancer, lost my dream job due to covid, got sick with debilitating stomach nausea which took me out of work for weeks, had to move out of my favorite apartment and out of my favorite city and move across the country twice, and have dealt with the loneliness of being far from family and friends. Similar to the Psalmist, my eyes sometimes grow weak with anguish, my soul and body fill with grief, and my strength fails, and my bones grow weak. However, when I need to remind myself I am not alone, I feel the love of God and it gives me the strength to be where I am until I can move forward. People throughout all of history, including those in the Bible (ahem, talking to you, David, writer of Psalm 31) have felt the same way—and have survived and thrived.
In the midst of his grief, David says in verse 14, “But I trust you, Lord.” This, my friends, is what I strive for in grief—to trust in God. It is sometimes easier said than done, but we come to a point where there is no other option. We must trust the Lord. The Message version of this verse says, “Desperate, I throw myself on you.” In an act of desperation, before we completely fall apart, we run to our Lord’s open arms, like a distressed child running into the arms of a loving parent. Although I have had my questions for God, have been angry with the Lord, and have even turned the other way in silence, I know deep in my soul that God is good. And like a parent, God wants the best for us—for “You are my God,” (vs 14).
Two things I have intentionally been praying for recently are: gratefulness and patience. The struggles of life can be overwhelming, but there are also many blessings and opportunities to be grateful. Sometimes I have to stop my attitude of “whoa is me,” and transform it to, “Thank you, Jesus, for XYZ.” Enduring grief requires patience and a knowledge that everything is in God’s control. The Psalmist says, “My times are in your hands.” God may not deliver us from everything, but he has promised to be with us through everything. May we have a deeper understanding of God’s orchestration, comfort, and empathy as we go through life’s struggles.
Write down 1-3 things that grieve your heart today. Ask God to show you where He is in these places and spaces. Ask for the faith to believe in God’s goodness and comfort in these areas. Ask God to give you patience as you navigate the grief. And finally, ask for a heart of gratefulness as you recognize the daily blessings the Lord pours over you.
Dear God, thank you that I am not alone in my grief, for you are always with me. I may not always recognize your presence, but I have the faith to believe you are wrapping me in your comfort and love. Please give me the patience to endure grief and the eyes to see your goodness all around me. Grant me the strength when I am weak and the faith to believe that my life is in your hands. I love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
About the Author
Rebekah grew up in the wonderful, but way too cold, state of Wisconsin. Although she is still loyal to her WI sports teams, she was wise and moved to a warmer climate. She lived in Los Angeles for 15 years and now finds herself living in the magnificently beautiful state of Hawaii. While in LA, she started and pastored a church in Downtown LA. The church is currently on hold, but the vision is still alive and well and she hopes to eventually make it back to the city. Until then, she is living it up on the Big Island—exploring and enjoying the scenery and working for a major U.S. airline. In her free time, she loves to travel, hike, play soccer, puzzle, read, host game nights, try new food, laugh around the dinner table with family and friends, and enjoy the adventures of life the Lord takes her on.