Even when we cannot choose the circumstances of our lives, we can still choose the theme of our story. The psalmist’s theme rises from a situation in David’s life. The inscription explains: “Of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.” The poet describes fears, and God’s deliverance from them, the crushing realities that evildoers inflict, and the assurance that when the righteous cry for help God hears and delivers (v. 17, NIV). Scripture does not sugarcoat the difficulties with which people struggle. Yet our texts from this week speak to our power to turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it (v. 14, NIV).
When I hear the teacher in this psalm offer instructions for living in a troubled world, I recall the day I sat in Miss Serle’s class and heard the news of President Kennedy’s assassination over the loudspeakers.
Looking back on that scene, I realize the great influence our grade school teacher had on us. We were stunned, and her tears confused us, but we learned from her response, composure, and presence. She helped us focus on our future at an uncertain time and grow as students and as a community. She taught us that no matter what our home plight was (and mine was in dire disarray), we were united as a class as we bore this change in our country. We would need a lifetime to process this loss, but we started processing it together as her students.
I read the full psalm and remember the inspiration and care my teacher invoked in me. We found a refuge in her classroom, and she mercifully surrounded us with a way to seek peace and pursue it.
Who teaches you how to live with hope in a troubled world?
God, in complicated days, keep us focused on seeking peace and pursuing it. Amen.