How long, O Lord?

Let us, in the middle of any difficult situations we may be, choose to put our trust not in the quality of our faith, but in God’s desire to deal bountifully with us.

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The verse, “How long, O Lord? Wilt thou forget me for ever?” in yesterday’s meditation by Amy Carmichael caught my heart, so I decided to do a little scripture study on the psalm from which it comes, Ps. 113.  I remember distinctly a time quite a few years ago when I was going through a very dark time in prayer.  Not only did God seem distant, I couldn’t even find Him.  I was on retreat at a Trappistine abbey, and I remember a prayer time there when I cried out to the Lord with very similar words to David’s: “Lord, have You forgotten me?”  I did not hear an answer, but, needless to say, there was grace to keep persevering in prayer.

Psalm 13 is short, only six verses.  The first four express the psalmist’s distress, both in his relationship with God, but also with the enemy.  These are verses that we all have, or will pray, someday.  But what struck me the most yesterday as I was pondering the psalm, were the last two verses:

But I have trusted in thy steadfast love;
     my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
     because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Anyone can pray the first four verses, but it takes faith, hope, and a great confidence in the Lord to pray those last two.  Listen to Derek Kidner’s comments on these two verses:

The I of verse 5 is emphatic (as in NEB, etc.: ‘But for my part, I . . .’), and so, to a lesser degree, is thy steadfast love.  However great the pressure, the choice is still his to make, not the enemy’s; and God’s covenant remains.  So the psalmist entrusts himself to this pledged love, and turns his attention not to the quality of his faith but to its object and its outcome, which he has every intention of enjoying.  The basic idea of the word translated dealt bountifully is completeness, which NEB interprets attractively as ‘granted all my desire’.  But RSV can hardly be bettered, since it leaves room for God’s giving to exceed man’s asking.  As for the past tense in which it is put, this springs evidently from David’s certainty that he will have such a song to offer, when he looks back at the whole way he has been led. (emphasis added)

Let us, in the middle of any difficult situations we may be, choose to put our trust not in the quality of our faith, but in His desire to deal bountifully with us.

The age-long minute

If you feel like Jesus may pass you by, have hope–He is coming to you.

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The title of this post comes from a meditation by Amy Carmichael on Ps 107.29-30: He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.  Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.  I have to say that my first thought after reading Then they were glad because they had quiet, were: “This verse must mean a lot to parents of toddlers and teenagers!”  Amy’s reflection was other–and deeper–than mine 🙂

jesus-walking-on-the-water“Then they were glad because they had quiet;” the words were music to me.  Then in reading the different stories of the Lord calming the sea, I found this: “He came to them . . . and meant to pass by them” [Mk 6.48].  The more literal the translation the more startling it is.  As I pondered the matter I saw that this “age-long minute” was part of the spiritual preparation of these men for a life that at that time was unimagined by them–a life of dauntless faith and witness in the absence of any manifestation of the power of the Lord; and it must be the same today.  Such minutes must be in our lives, unless our training is to be unlike that of ever saint and warrior who ever lived.  Our “minute” may seem endless–“How long wilt Thou forget me,” cried David out of the depths of his–but perhaps looking back we shall in such an experience a great and shining opportunity.  Words are spoken then that are spoken at no other time . . .  We have a chance to prove our glorious God, to prove that His joy is strength and that His peace passeth all understanding, and to know the love of Christ that passeth knowledge.
     And the “minute” always ends in one way, there is no other ending recorded anywhere: “But immediately he spoke to them, and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; have no fear” . . . and the wind ceased” [Mk 6.50].   
     “Then they were glad because they had quiet; and he brought them to their desired haven.”
                                                  (Edges of His Ways, pp. 143-44)

If you feel that you are in “an age-long minute”, have hope–He is coming to you and will bring you to your desired haven.

Why Saturday is Mary’s Day

Saturday is traditionally observed as the day of Our Lady. John Saward explains why.

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Lady of ConsolationHave you ever wondered why Saturday is traditionally observed as the day of Our Lady? A few years ago I was reading a book by John Saward (The Beauty of Holiness, the Holiness of Beauty), and, in a section about our Lady, he described Mary’s unfailing faith through the long, terrible day after Christ’s death when she alone kept faith in her Son.   I had never before heard of this mariological foundation for Saturday being traditionally her day:

The yes [her continued yes to the Lord that began with her Annunciation yes] of Our Lady does not end on Good Friday and [Christ’s] yielding of the spirit . . . . The faith and love of Our Lady last into Holy Saturday.  The dead body of the Son of God lies in the tomb, while His soul descends into Sheol, the Limbo of the Fathers.  Jesus goes down into the hideous kingdom of death to proclaim the power of the Cross and the coming victory of the Resurrection and to open Heaven’s gates to Adam and Eve and all the souls of the just.  The Apostles, hopeless and forlorn, know none of this.  “As yet,” St. John tells us, “they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead” (Jn 20.9).  In all Israel, is there no faith in Jesus?  On this silent Saturday, this terrible Shabbat, while the Jews’ true Messiah sleeps the sleep of death, who burns the lights of hope?  Is there no loyal remnant?  There is, and its name is Mary.  In the fortitude of faith, she keeps the Sabbath candles alight for her Son.  That is why Saturday, the sacred day of her physical brethren, is Our Lady’s weekly festival.  On the first Holy Saturday, in the person of Mary of  Nazareth, Israel now an unblemished bride, faces her hardest trial and, through the fortitude of the Holy Spirit, is triumphant.

And I take great comfort in knowing that Mary always burns the light of hope for me (and you!) as well.