Friday, March 18, 2016

Psalm 31:9-16

Isaiah 54:9-10

Hebrews 2:10-18

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

[Isaiah 54:10 New Revised Standard Version]

Ever have one of those days when nothing seems to go right and, despite your best intentions, everything you do or say is misunderstood?

Welcome to my world.

A week doesn’t go by when at least for at least one day or a portion of it, I am in some sort of challenging conversation with someone who takes my words the opposite way they were intended or my actions don’t meet their expectations. The stress can seem unbearable.

Conflict is part and parcel of my office simply because there are people who by their very nature dislike, suspect, or contest authority. Others are intimidated by those whom they perceive to hold a higher status. I enter a room and the anxiety level automatically rises. I confess that frequently that anxiety is within me because I try to anticipate how my presence will be received. Thus I also contribute to the situation, usually by overthinking it. It is just how we are wired.

In times like these it is helpful to turn to the word of God in Holy Scripture. Today in particular, God speaks to us through the prophet Isaiah:

DSC_2536For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Three words strike me as I read this verse – love, peace, compassion.

How comforting these words are to read and to hear!

When I question myself, my decisions, my competence, it is verses like this that remind me that it’s not a question of who I am, but who God is and how God is present in my life. Because of the nature of God, these words provide a reassurance of stability in this world of constant change.

As humans, it is hard work to separate thought from emotion. Yet God’s love for me is steadfast, whatever external stressors may threaten to undermine my sense of composure.

In the midst of whatever turmoil we may be experiencing, it is trust in God’s love that gives us a sense of peace – God’s peace. A peace that surpasses all understanding because, believe me, when our outer self can project a sense of peace, no one will understand.

Compassion implies that God knows our struggles and the situation in which we find ourselves.

We prepare to enter Holy Week, when we will once again be reminded how Jesus was praised on Palm Sunday and by Friday was tried, tortured and hung on a cross to die for the sins of this world. This was God’s sacrifice for us. What in our life could be worse?

And the writer of Hebrews provides the appropriate closing thought.

“Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” [Hebrews 2:18]

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