By Melanie Marie Myatt
Lectionary reading for 3/10/2022: Psalm 27; Genesis 13:1-7; Philippians 3:2-12
Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 27
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
2 When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.
4 The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6 Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.
7 Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
9 Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.
11 Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
14 Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
When I picture the people of the United States, I picture a lot of people who look like this. Everyone seems so angry these days. I hear a lot of these types of comments:
"Republicans are total racists who care only about staying in power."
"Democrats want to turn us into a bunch of communists, and they will manipulate any laws they can to make it happen."
"Anti-vaxxers are selfish people who believe a bunch of propaganda that isn’t based on science."
"Pro-vaxxers and their mandates are trying to infringe on the freedoms that our country was built on."
So many angry people.
How can we as believers stay set apart? How can we be a people characterized by love instead of anger?
I believe this Psalm gives us some good advice. The first three verses focus on trust. We can choose to have fear, or we can choose to have faith. Fear is often at the root of anger. But if we choose faith, we don’t need to have to get self-righteously angry at people who disagree with us. We have confidence because our identity is in God, not in a political party.
When our identity is in God, we find God’s presence to be a sanctuary of grace and peace (vv. 4-6). The raucous clamor of the angry people will quiet as we find rest and wisdom in our time with God. Imagine if a wave of grace and peace were spreading out from us and spreading to others who are seeking a sea of calm away from the chaos of our country?
Maybe the angry people seem like they are everywhere you turn. Do you struggle to hear God’s voice when everyone else is so loud? We can pray the words of verses 7-10 along with the Psalmist. We ask for God’s presence to protect us and be a shield around us, even if the people we disagree with are our own family members.
Finally, we join with the Psalmist to request direction (vv. 11-14). We don’t want to chime in with the angry people; instead, we ask God to teach us how to live with integrity in the midst of angry people. We want to learn to live God’s way instead of the world’s way.
Lent is a time for us to turn our hearts toward God. Whether we give up something for Lent, or choose to do an act of kindness every day, we are showing ourselves to be a people who are set apart; we look different from the rest of the world. When we show grace and peace even to people we (strongly!) disagree with, we spread God’s love and do our part to bring God’s kingdom to earth.
Are you feeling angry? Bring your anger to God. Just like the Psalmist, ask God to change your heart to trust that God can deal with the angry people in God’s perfect timing. Ask God for courage and bravery to stand apart and demonstrate God’s love and peace even to angry people.
God, like the Psalmist, we have a choice set before us: we can choose fear or faith.
If we are fearful, we respond with anger to anger. Give us a desire to enter your sanctuary, to experience your love, and learn to walk in your path. Then we can be people of peace who share your love with others. Help us be brave and courageous, even as we wait for you to work and bring healing to our world. Amen.
About the Author
Melanie Myatt lives in Chicago, Illinois. She is a Writer, Teacher, Mom, Preacher, Spiritual Director, Learner, and Chaplain Resident in no particular order. She is currently journeying through 1 Samuel if you would like to join her. Now that Spring is beginning, you can find Melanie with her face turned toward the sun, dreaming of summer beach days.