June 8, 2020
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.
Are you tired of all this yet? Has it gone from exciting to dull to restrictive? Are you ready, even more than ready, to get back to normal? It wasn’t enough that we had a death-dealing pandemic, the likes of which we haven’t had to deal with for the last hundred years. Now we’re also coping with civil unrest and armed guards, attacks on policing, as well as attacks on protestors.
And in every single thing we’re doing, some of us are on one side, some on the other, some stuck in the middle? Re-open church? yes? no? maybe? inside? outside? Can we sing? absolutely not! but I love to sing!! How much cleaning is enough? Do we have to swab down the bathrooms every time they’re used? yes? no? shrug our shoulders? Can I go outside? Can I visit the grandkids? Can they come here? When is it safe to go to the grocery store? Eat out?
I don’t know about you, but this is all getting to be more than I expected. It’s gone on longer than I’d planned. I’d thought for sure we’d have church inside in the Hall this summer, but at best we’ll have it outside. I’m going on vacation next month, but where?
But…but …. while it’s unusual for everyone to be dealing with this much stress at once, individually we know it happens. Three deaths of close family members in three weeks. It happens. Move, divorce, change jobs. It happens. Stock market crashes and your retirement has to be deferred until your retirement account gains what had been lost. It happens.
When stuff like that happens, when today turns into tomorrow without ending all this endless stuff, there’s a word from God for us. One place I hear it is in today’s Psalm: “I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me, but I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a . . child with its mother…” Jesus put it this way, “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof…” And in Alcoholics Anonymous, it comes out one day at a time.
Do not try to solve tomorrow’s problems today. Look for the good in this day; enjoy the sparkle of sun on the water, savor the taste of your dinner. Deal with what has to be done now. And when it gets to be too much, linger over this prayer, from United Church of Christ leader Reinhold Niebuhr:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.