Scripture: Psalm 66
Key verses: (8-12)
8 Bless our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept us among the living,
and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net;
you laid burdens on our backs;
12 you let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.
Reflection: Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, has a new book out this week, called Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. She writes about the sudden death of her husband, and the beginning of her journey through grief. I haven’t read it yet, and I have no deep knowledge about the faith of the author, or if she even addresses questions of faith in the book. But an interview I heard with her made me think about this psalm. Sandberg talks about resilience being like a muscle. When not used, it can atrophy. But when developed, which only happens through adversity, resilience grows stronger and more capable. Sandberg recalled her son’s recent basketball team defeat. Most of his teammates were despondent. Her son seemed fine. When she asked why, he said, “Mom, it’s just sixth grade basketball.” His experience of grief had built a muscle of resilience that helped him keep things in perspective.
In Psalm 66, the psalmist calls for songs of praise to God from a deep history of resilience. He recalls major events of the people of Israel that tested their faith: enslavement and the exodus. Bound up in those are hundreds of years of suffering, decades of wandering in the wilderness, and the loss of vision of what God was up to. Yet through those experiences of adversity, faith had been developed like a resilient muscle in the people of God. Even when not acknowledged, it is what kept them moving forward one step at a time, day after day. It is what enabled them to rejoice in God’s gift of “a spacious place” after all their trials. It is what keeps us praising God through whatever devastation or disappointment we may experience. May we exercise the muscle of faith, trusting that God’s ways are more resilient than anything that would seem to defeat them, even our own loss of perspective.
Prayer: Lord, your ways are not my ways. I see trouble and you see possibility. I see sin and you see grace. I see suffering and you see salvation. Open my eyes to see you walking alongside me through whatever comes my way. Give me the resilient perspective of the psalmist. Bring me to a spacious place where I can praise you always. In the name of the risen Christ, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].