‘O Put your Trust in God’ – a Reflection for Trinity 1 19 June 2022

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually,
‘Where is your God?’

These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
O put your trust in God; for I shall again give you thanks, my help and my God.

My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of your waterfalls;
all your waves and your billows have gone over me.
By day Yahweh, you ordain your steadfast love towards me, and by night you bring me your song,
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock,
‘Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?’
As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
O put your trust in God; for I shall again give you thanks, my help and my God.

Psalm 42

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There are weeks in which the news seems to be unremittently challenging. This week is one. There comes a point when we can be forgiven for wondering whether there is anything positive to report. The war continues in Ukraine. The Bishops of the Church of England have rightly, in my view, protested against the deportation of refugees to Rwanda. The fifth anniversary of the catastrophic fire at Grenfall Tower exposes again the grief of survivors and the bereaved and the questions that circle around that tragedy. The Government continues to wrangle with the EU. Fuel and food prices are prohibitive for many. The soaring number of children on free school meals in the UK shows that poverty is on the rise. Doubtless you will have noticed and be reflecting on other stories from across the county and around the world.

Within this bigger picture, individuals are struggling with their own private worries and griefs. As a priest, it is my privilege to come alongside people in good times and bad, to listen, to support, to encourage and to pray. Within the parish, there are currently a number of untimely funerals for people who have died not in the fullness of years. Yet regardless of how old someone is or how ill they have become, death is always hard. Grief is the price we pay for love. I am conscious too of those in our worshipping communities who are sick with coronavirus and other illness, those who await test results, those who in the early hours of the morning are tossing and turning, wondering what the future might hold.

Into all this and more, our psalm is offered as one of lament and of promise. The psalmist notes her sorrow: Why are you cast down, O my soul and why are you disquieted within me? She is taunted by the seeming absence of God: My tears have been my bread day and night, while all day long they say to me, ‘Where is now your God? There is good biblical precedent for doubt and anger and grief when with the psalmist we might want to cry out: I say to God, my rock, Why have you forgotten me?

But even at this time of abandonment and misery, the psalmist manages to offer her thanks and praise alongside a rallying call to hope: Hope in God; for I shall again give you thanks, my help and my God. The Psalmist looks back over the sweep of salvation history and remembers that God never forgets God’s people: ‘By day Yahweh, you ordain your steadfast love towards me, and by night you bring me your song, a prayer to the God of my life.’

There are times when words and action are inadequate. In those times we simply turn to God and abide in God’s love. We offer to God our lives and the life of our world in hope and in trust.

You may like to sit in the presence of God in silence. Or you may care to make the following prayer your own:

Come, creator Spirit, source of life; sustain us when our hearts are heavy and our wells have run dry, for you are the Father’s gift, with him who is our living water, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector

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