Psalm 76

On a beautiful, peaceful summer Sunday
All feels quiet and lush, both around me and inside me
It is easy to believe, today, in a great, benevolent God
A God who conquers my fears, my insecurities, my doubts
A God who defeats the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”
That constantly war against my peace, my wholeness
On days like today, it is so easy to praise a glorious God
A mighty God, who banishes my terrible Ds
So that none of them can harm me
It is easy to laugh at my doubts, depression, despair
Because today, on this beautiful day when my internal world
Seems simply a continuation of a beautiful natural world
Today, if I look no further than my home
If I think no further than myself
How easy it is to praise an awesome God
A God who defends me, who judges me kindly. Please and Praise
A God who stills my uneasiness
A God who lifts my oppressed spirit
Ah yes, today God seems awesome to me, in my life
God who conquers all
God who is worthy of my praise and my vows
God who is worthy of my gifts, my all
So easy, today, in the peaceful beauty of my home
So easy to echo the psalmist
But how do I keep this internal peace, this faith
When the world around me turns ugly
How do I understand an all powerful God
In the face of such injustice and ugliness
I do not know, so today I will enjoy a Sabbath rest
In the beauty of Your created world – a beauty that includes me. Amen

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Psalm 77

“I cry aloud to God…that God may hear me”
I am troubled so I seek God, but not for peace but for rebuke
“My soul refuses to be comforted
I think of God and I moan”; I try to pray and I fail.
Please and Praise
I try
Is it You, God, who keeps me restless and troubled
Is it You who keeps me focused on regrets and failures
Is it You would keeps me asking if You exist
And if You do exist, why do You seem not to care for me
Not to help me, not to let me feel, let me know
Your steadfast love, Your promised redemption, Your salvation
Your grace, Your mercy, Your compassion
Why do I feel oppressed by Your demands, Your displeasure
Please, Please, Please – I try to praise
I try to believe that it is me and not You
Who has failed in belief, in love
Help me, please, to remember all the times You have rescued me
Help me to remember all the times of peace I have found in You
Help me to remember and believe Psalm 1
Help me to meditate on Your power, Your might
Your ability to conquer my demons
Help my mind to follow Your holy path
To rejoice in Your greatness
“You are the God who works wonders”
You are MY God, my God who has proven Your power in my life
Time and again
You have redeemed me, not once for all, but over and over again
Saving me from drowning in my doubts
Saving me from the torrents of my despair
Saving me from the arrows of depression
That pierce my peace of mind
Overpowering the whirlwind of my feelings of defeat
Lighting up my darkness with Your faithfulness
That carried me through the raging seas of my doubts
So often I fail to see You, to recognize Your saving grace
Yet always You lead me, gentle my spirit
You give me Your saints
To guide and encourage me. Amen

Psalm 78

For seventy-two verses
The psalmist recounts God’s faithfulness
To the unfaithful
God gets angry, She punishes, She casts away
But returns again and again
Her love stronger than anger
Faithful to the unfaithful
Finding the lost, saving the good
Defeating the powerful, discarding the evil
With plagues, She freed Her people from slavery
Opened the closed sea for their safe passage
Closed the open sea against their pursuers
Through the desert She led them
With cloud and fire, miracles and commandments
Despite their doubts and complaints
She quenched their thirst, satisfied their hunger
In the promised land She established them
Preserved them despite their failings
Despite their desertion again and again
Through defeat, even in Her anger, She loved them
After the winnowing, with the remnant, for the good
She established Her sanctuary
Brought Her people back to Jerusalem
And always She gave them
Moses, David, Jesus, the Advocate
All Herself
Shepherding Her people with truth and skill

I am Her people
I am Israel
I follow until I wander
I believe until I doubt
I trust until I despair
I love until I become distracted, indifferent
I crave peace until I am hurt, angered
I am satisfied until I am envious
I laugh until I forget joy
I worship until I ignore my blessings
And still, always,
When I have flayed myself into pieces
When I am defeated, discouraged, depressed
When I have forgotten God
She remembers me
She rescues me, believes in me, loves me
She gathers the pieces of me
Saves the good, discards the rest
And brings me back to Her. Amen.

Psalm 79

O God, I need help. My worst faults are defying my best efforts
Too often, I feel ruined, defiled, fit for nothing
I try, but I never seem to succeed for long
I feel scattered, drained, used up
Not really living but yet not dead
It feels like the more I try, the more defeated I become
How long, O God?
Won’t You help?
You can do what I can’t, but I do get tired of waiting
What am I waiting for?
Do I expect to wake up one day and be perfect?
All my struggles, all my trials, behind me?
Ah, that would be heaven.
Ha, yes, that would be heaven, only heaven
Never here on earth, never while I live here
But please, forget my failings and help me forget them
At least have compassion and help me have
Faith, Hope, Love
Help me, O God of my salvation,
For the glory of Your name
Deliver me and forgive my sins
For Your name’s sake
Else I am surely defeated
Restore me, free me,
Give me faith in life everlasting
Scatter, at least for a while,
Those faults and failings that preoccupy me
That hold me prisoner, smothering my hope
Restore me, free me,
So that, knowing myself to be Yours,
I can spend my time praising You
Rather than fighting myself. Amen

Psalm 80

Renew my faith, oh Conqueror
Let Your light conquer my darkness
That I may see that I am saved

Hear me, see me, save me
You are Ruler, Leader, Guide, Savior for everyone
So stir Yourself for me
I know You have saved me – once for all
But knowing is not enough
I want to believe it
Renew my faith, oh Conqueror
Let Your light conquer my darkness
That I may see that I am saved

I’m crying here, do You see my tears?
Do You know my fear, my despair?
I am so scared of the worst of me.
Renew my faith, oh Conqueror
Let Your light conquer my darkness
That I may see that I am saved

I am baptized, educated in my faith
Bible-reading, devotion-doing, psalm-writing
I pray, I do good works, I care about social justice
I go to church, I go to Bible Study, I read the saints
And still I despair. And still I fail. And still I struggle
Renew my faith, oh Conqueror
Let Your light conquer my darkness
That I may see that I am saved

I always expect more from You and from myself, don’t I?
I look to You to defeat my enemies
Not believing that You already have
Like the psalmist, I bargain with You
Conquer my enemies, my fears, my problems
And I will never turn back from You
Give me life and I will call on Your name
How stupid, how foolish of me
To forget that You have already done it!
Renew my faith, oh Conqueror
Let Your light conquer my darkness
That I may see that I am saved.
Amen