Daily Devotions

Troubles and Calamities

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"You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again." (Psalm 71:20)

 

The morning of September 11, 2001, I got up early and took a long bike ride before work. It was an absolutely beautiful day. It was 70 degrees, without summer humidity. I was riding through George Wyth Park in Cedar Falls. I got to the top of a hill on the side of the lake. Uncharacteristically, I stopped, got off my bike, and just looked at the lake and sky. I literally commented to myself, that life was perfect. I remember it, because it was so unlike me to respond that way, especially when I am riding my bike.

 

When I got home, I turned on ESPN, but announcer Stuart Scott was acting melancholy. He kept encouraging people to turn to their sister network, ABC for further information. Confused, I turned the channel, just as the plane it the second tower. I just stood there, in stunned disbelief. I called Jill at work, and then called the church and told them to contact the media, because I was scheduling a worship service that evening.

 

We became a global society that day. Previously, we fooled ourselves in thinking that our geographic isolation saved us from the political violence that occurred in Africa, the Middle East and even Western Europe. Fourteen years ago today, we all witnessed "troubles and calamities" that changed our world view forever. The terrorists didn't destroy our society, as they hoped, but they did change it. Churches around the country, and world, prayed and God did "bring me (us) up again."

 

On this anniversary, there remain many "troubles and calamities" around our globe. Fourteen years ago, we had never heard of ISIS, for example. With calamities ever before us, we can trust that God will never stop bring us "up again." Pray today for those who lost loved ones on 9/11/01. Pray for peace around our globe. Then, offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the God who will continue to bring healing and peace.

Don't Delay

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"But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!" (Psalm 70:5)

 

Being poor and needy is a paradox. No one wishes to be poor and needy. Yet, God blesses the poor and needy because they are the ones who are desperate enough to reach out to God. In a strange way, being poor and needy is its own blessing. The poor and needy cannot afford to put up walls of separation from God. Their poor and neediness become a blessing, as they become closer to God.

 

I have written devotionals for almost all of the first 70 psalms. Thus far, what is glaringly apparent is that the psalmist(s) are in a constant struggle with enemies, who disagree and disrespect the writer. The pain in most of these Psalms is nearly unbearable. The psalmist's cries are primal. Today, as then, suffering is real, and ultimately, the only lasting hope is in God's love and mercy.

 

My life has been blessed with very few moments where I felt the utter despair of a primal scream. But, as a pastor I have been with many people who felt poor and needy. I've tried to help people who were desperately poor and scared, not only for themselves, but also for their children. I've held the hand of spouses who lost their partner suddenly. I've stood by parents who could not extricate their teenage child from addiction. I've heard the primal scream too many times.

 

In moments of bitterness and primal screams, there remains hope. Often, modern medicine does not hold the answer. Death is the great equalizer. The Christian faith brings comfort amidst the pain. There is truth in the resurrection. Their is joy in salvation and the promise of life eternal. It gives us the strength to turn our primal cry, into a shout of affirmation saying, "Do not delay!"

 

Share any frustrations you have with God, in prayer. If your frustrations are high, even let out a primal scream. Warn your family and pets if they are in ear shot. Then share a passionate prayer, articulating your needs and fears. Conclude by asking God not to delay!

 

  

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