Daily Devotions

Horrified but Hopeful

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 "The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath." (Ps. 110:5)

The only beneficial thing that came out of a Presbytery meeting I had today was an Outreach report on Zimbabwe. Because of the scourge of the ongoing AIDS epidemic in Africa, there are over one million orphaned, homeless children in a country with a total population of 13 million people. Approximately 74% of those children are affected by the AIDS virus.

 

The majority of these poor orphans live in the largest city, Harare. The children wander the street, living in parks, alleys, even in drainage pipes. Amidst the despair and brutality, the Lord's "right hand" is present. The hope is in the form of a place called Lovemore Home. The Presbyterian outreach mission cares for approximately a dozen boys at a time. Each one has been abused emotionally, physically, and sexually while on the street. But, at Lovemore Home, they find safety, protection, security and a Christlike love. They are able to stay until they become adults.

 

When I hear about the political and financial corruption that creates societies where children are victimized without consequence, I understand the need for divine hope in our world. It is easy to become cynical when so much of the world is either corrupt or desires the bliss which comes with ignorance.

 

Today, pray for the least among us, the orphan children of Zimbabwe. Picture the reality of their parents dying of AIDS, and amidst their mourning and confusion, they are cast into the street to starve and far worse. Call on Gods "right hand" to reach out and give them comfort and hope. Offer prayers of strength for the missionaries like those at Lovemore Home, who give their lives in faith, so the least of those can get a glimmer of divine hope in their lives. Then conclude your prayer, asking God to guide you in finding ways to make a difference in this often pain-filled world.

Let Out a Primal Yell

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"Let them curse, but you will bless. Let my assailants be put to shame; may your servant be glad." (Psalm 109:28)

 

Read the whole psalm today. As you read it, feel the pain in the words of vengeance. It is so uncomfortable scholars like Hermann Gunkel "consider Psalm 109 to be the only pure psalm of imprecation in the psalter." I had to look up the meaning of the word "imprecation." It means, "to call down evil on someone." The great scholar Walter Brueggemann calls the psalm "a song of hate." No wonder the Christian community has long ignored this psalm.

 

Sadly, I believe the Psalm has been misunderstood and shortchanged. People of faith are often loving people, who desire peace and understanding. We tend not to be comfortable or even willing to address conflict, even when it can be done in a healthy manner. The psalmist was being victimized. In matters of victimization and brutal injustice, righteous anger is not only acceptable, but appropriate and in many cases, necessary.

 

For the victimized, appropriate anger often has therapeutic, as well as theological, applications for healing. The key is the word "appropriate." Anger that becomes inappropriate leads to violence, which makes the victim a victimizer. Appropriate anger leads the victim on a journey to being a survivor, without loosing integrity. Notice, the psalmist’s vengeful anger is directed at God, through prayer. God is able to take our anger, and is also able to respond with appropriate power and justice.

 

Today, think about an injustice in your life. Perhaps it occurred yesterday. More probably, it is something that happened years ago, but remains an angry, festering wound in your soul. Rather than a forced forgiveness, pray the prayer of Psalm 109.

 

Find a private place, and go ballistic. Scream, growl even, yell your description of the horror you experienced and the unfairness that the victimizer still lives with even a little happiness in life. Then, when you are too tired to rant any longer, say the words of Deuteronomy 32:35, "Vengeance is mine," but then continue by saying, "saith the Lord." As someone who was victimized, you have a right to your anger. Do not let it eat you, and become victimized yet again. Empty your vengeance on God, who can take it and turn it into justice and blessing. God bless your courage and willingness to be a survivor.

 

 

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