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The Beauty and Pain of Deliverance

A Lent Reflection for Wednesday, February 21 by Rev. Alicia Vela Anderson


Lectionary reading for 02/21/2024: Psalm 77, Proverbs 30:1-9, Matthew 4:1-11

Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 77:1-3, 14-20


Read

Psalm 77:1-3, 14-20 NRSVUE

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, that he may hear me.

In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out with wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.

I think of God, and I moan; I meditate, and my spirit faints. Selah


You are the God who works wonders;you have displayed your might among the peoples.

With your strong arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.  Selah.

When the waters saw you, O God,when the waters saw you, they were afraid;the very deep tembled.

The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; your arrows flashed on every side.

The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;your lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook.

Your way was through the sea, your path through the mighty waters, yet your footprints were unseen.

You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.


Reflect 

Psalm 77 urges me to remember the both/and of deliverance. The joy and celebration coupled with the grief, the terror, and the loss of control. It’s funny how often we skip to the joy and celebration, we even sing songs like “Pharaoh, Pharaoh” and dance along to a story of destruction and death. The Psalmist takes us through the crying out to God - the utter loneliness of feeling abandoned by God. Through the remembering of how God is the God that does wonders. The Creator that can command the elements of the land and sea for their own purposes. All the way through to the unseen footsteps of the Deliverer, guiding the people of God through to safety. 


We forget that even when the promise before us is a land flowing with goodness, gifts that we didn’t know we wanted or needed, the journey there is marked with moments that can only be described as giving up complete control to the One you’re following to safety. There are times that we know it’s the only way out, so we are willing to take the treacherous journey to get to something better. But there are also times when what we’re leaving behind is a complicated mix of beauty and pain.

 

Because the truth of this life we live is that alongside the pain that comes from shrinking oneself to fit spaces not meant for us, there is the beauty of community that is in it with us. There is both brokenness in the systems that don’t recognize our humanity or care to change to make room at the table. And there was comfort in the familiarity of things that held us back. Even when what you’re moving to is the abounding grace and fertile soil for new life, it’s hard not to look back at the ashes behind you and mourn the life lost among the weeds. Even when it’s what you asked for - you asked for the deliverance, the cleansing fire to come and bring about new life. 


As I look back on the journey I’ve had so far with God, I am at awe of the ways that the Spirit has pushed me, pulled me, carried me, or simply let me stand still where I was at the moment. God has never been in a hurry to get me to my destination and I still don’t feel like I’ve arrived. But what I do know is that I can look backwards and hold the grief and beauty while imagining the goodness that is ahead of me.


Respond 

Wherever you are in the journey this Lenten season, take a moment to take stock of the world around you. Where are you sensing God is at work? Where do you see the guidance of the Deliverer? What power are you asking the Almighty to reign down in your life?


Rest 

Almighty God of Power and Might, may we feel the movement in the world around us, your power shaking free those who are trapped, delivering us from what holds us. Jesus, our Saving Grace, may we pay attention to where you are leading us - towards grace and abundance. Holy Spirit of comfort, help us to hold the space for both joy and pain in the midst of the journey. Amen.


About the Author 



Rev Alicia Vela Anderson serves as the Associate Pastor of Formation at LaSalle Street Church in Chicago, IL. She spends her evenings and weekends exploring the neighborhoods of Chicago with her husband looking for local bookstores, cafes, and shops to learn the stories of the communities around her. 



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i always feel thankful when leaders leave space and opening for grief. we do grieve much of what we have left behind, but we aren't always given an opportunity to do that. thank you for creating space for grief and lament.

Beğen
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