Each week Pastor Sarah offers a devotional reflection to connect with the South Shore UMC Family. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!
Sunday's Scripture ~ Joshua 24:1-2, 14-18.
Devotional Scripture ~ Habakkuk 3:17-19.
One phrase I find myself repeating more and more these days?
When it rains, it pours.
This is not just my experience; it appears to be a collective and common experience. And that, friends, rings true with another phrase:
Misery loves company.
Habakkuk is a prophet to and in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. This book of the Bible reads like the mixture of the aching prayers in the Psalms laid alongside the questions of theodicy levied in
Job. But unlike in Job, when Habakkuk asks why evil is permitted in the world, God answers.
Some people blame God for the presence of evil in the world, but in truth, we do not know entirely why or how evil made its way here. So rather than blame God or speculate, Habakkuk chooses to speak about what he does know. He speaks about the attributes of God he has witnessed and that he trusts.
Habakkuk names a number of hardships in Chapter 3:
Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails, and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls,
In other words... When it rains, it pours... Misery loves company...
Sometimes we need to release questions of theodicy into the world so that they, at least for a time, ease their swirling inside of us. Sometimes we need to face the hurt in our world - to see it, to hear it, to pray for guidance in how to respond to it - and sometimes we need to give ourselves the grace of space to walk away. To turn it off. To care for ourselves in the Sabbath-filled presence of God so that then we are best prepared to care for others.
When it is pouring, it is easy to spot - and possibly even instigate - more rain. More hurt. More trauma. Hurt people tend to hurt people. Habakkuk is not ignorant to that truth. And to that truth he speaks greater truth. In the midst of all this disappointment, heartache, failure, evaporated opportunities, and delayed, if not deleted, dreams, Habakkuk says,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.
The prophet speaks what he knows in confidence and hope. He trusts in the Lord. He looks towards the horizon, counting on God seeing more than he alone can see. He walks forward in faith. He tends to what God has placed in his hands and leaves God take care of the rest.
Friends, that is what our God asks of us. God asks us to speak about what we know of God in confidence and hope. God asks us to trust, knowing that our trust grows as we practice trusting! G
od wants us to look towards the horizon and count on God seeing more than we can see alone. God desires we walk forward in faith - and in walking forward in faith - that we find the breaks the in rainclouds. That we celebrate the moments of sunshine. That we take care to share with one another the good that is present and persists even in the midst of all the muck. God wants us to tend to what God has placed in our hands and leave God to take care of the rest.
We are in God's hands. God will.not.ever let us go.
Though the sorrow may last for the night - and the nights seem to be longer and longer these days - joy comes in the morning. There is joy because of our God.
Reflection: Write down circumstances in your life that feel scary or overwhelming. Consider the multiple spheres in your life - personal, local, national, and global, and pray about these concerns. Then write down five attributes or confidences you have about God. Take comfort in these confidences, and share them with a friend.
Prayer: "Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee. Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise. Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of thy love. Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for thee."* Amen.
*”Take My Life, And Let It Be,” The United Methodist Hymnal 399.
**Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal