Season after Pentecost (Proper 8 [13]) : The Psalm Passages – Rescued from the shakes

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.” (Psalm 13:1-4)

The previous three or four days before I sat down to write this were as good of health days as I have had for a long time. But the morning of the day I sat down to write, I felt the familiar aches and pains that meant another “flare” was coming. While I try to live my live so that I am an enemy to no one, and no one would consider me any enemy, I do have an “enemy” of sorts – my own body. I have several autoimmune diseases.

An autoimmune disease means that for some reason your own body attacks itself; there are many types and kinds of autoimmune diseases. Sometime arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease; it may come with old age or it may start its “corrosive” action at an earlier age. Type 1 diabetes can be considered autoimmune; my type is type 2, but it seems in a causal relationship with my autoimmune diseases. I am part of several support groups that are composed of people who have autoimmune illnesses or who know/support people in their lives who have one or more. In any case when I have flares, which are gradual or sudden increases in symptoms, I am shaken. And it does seem like my “enemy” has prevailed. But the psalmist and I are not alone, as the support groups attest to.

“But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” (Verses 5 – 6)

This trust in the Lord and having been dealt with “bountifully” does not mean symptoms go away or that I feel better. “Better” is only a relatively term, and as I have learned again lately, does not last long. I am still able to keep to some sort of a regular schedule and list of accomplishments only because the sum total of my strength, stamina, and endurance does not lay only within my one body but also in the Lord. Over the years where my ability fades off and the Lord’s ability steps in to carry me through has blurred over the years such that I am not sure where one ends and the other begins. And that is why I trust the Lord and trust in the Divine’s steadfast love.

In a sense, we all have an autoimmune disease – we call it “sin” and “human willfulness.” We do things that are hurtful to our soul and spirit, and the soul and spirit of others. We “attack” harmony and the shalom that the Divine wishes for the world. And when the Lord God rescues us and all of humanity, that is the salvation that the psalmist rejoices in. I do too, for that matter.

So I am at peace; the Lord is with me, both for my health and my salvation. The enemy will not, in matters that are most important, prevail. Selah!


Addendum: Fifteen minutes after this posting appears, it will also appear on my Pondering From the Pacific blog. Since the posting touches (and more than touches) on my health, I thought it good to post it there also. I hope over time to bring the two blogs closer together in content and focus. Shalom! 

Season After Pentecost – Blessing, praising and being strong in the Lord. (The Psalms Passage)

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalms 34:1)

That’s a tough one today, the day I am writing this. I do not feel well and on those days it is hard to find anything a blessing. But that puts me in good company with Job, whose story we just finished yesterday. And, I remember, Job was not initially able to praise or bless anything when he was in the grips of his suffering.

I am surrounded by family and friends who support me. That is a blessing. And I do know I can call on the Lord in the midst of my suffering, and I know I will be heard. That is a blessing too.

“My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” (Verses 3 & 4)

It is in the midst of our suffering that we can know the sweetest joy and relief in the Lord. And I know that if I can set aside the messages my body is sending me, my spirit can connect with the Lord’s Spirit and I can feel the joy and relief spread through me which makes the discomfort and pain bearable.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord, and was saved from every trouble.” (Verses 5 & 6)

Can you believe this with me, beloved reader? That in the midst of pain and suffering you can find relief in the Lord? It is hard, I know. It took time and years of experience to be able to do this spiritual discipline. It also takes faith and belief in something that can be beyond our understanding and sight.

“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.” (Verses 7 & 8)

There are many saints and Christian “heroes” who struggled to have this type of faith and belief. So if you desire this, but struggle with it you are in good company.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all.
He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.
Evil brings death to the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” (Verses 19-22)

The Lord may not prevent or stop trouble, discomfort, pain and suffering. And it is hard to understand why the Lord does not. But we do not have to endure it alone. The psalmist says the Lord “keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.” And if we anticipate this in a literal sense, we may be disappointed. But with the Lord’s presence the important parts of our being, our spirit and soul, will not be broken. Indeed, they will be become stronger from the endurance and blessing of the Lord.

My health deteriorates as each months and years pass. But my spirit and soul has become stronger. May your spirit and soul be strengthened through the Lord as you go through all that is in your life, beloved reader. Selah!