You strengthen me more and more; You enfold and comfort me. Psalm 71:21
Bless our God, you peoples; make the voice of His praise to be heard; Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip. For you, O God, have proved us; you have tried us just as silver is tried. You brought us into the snare; you laid heavy burdens upon our backs. You let enemies ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; but You brought us out into a place of refreshment. Psalm 66:7-12
Last night we talked about how true heart-rending grief somehow drives us into His comforting embrace. And how those Israelites ate What is it? for forty long years. Ann Voskamp calls it eating the mystery.
And the headlines this morning shout the aches “of a broken and battered planet.” In one Afghan city, 12 schoolgirls were crushed to death in a stampede as they tried to evacuate their school. The escalation in fighting in Syria, along with Russian airstrikes, spurs a huge escalation of civilian flight, just as EU vows tighter border controls in effort to stem flow of migrants. And winter has hit, and temperatures are plummeting. And I had been wondering what role the many prayers offered up had in the no lives lost during Patricia, history’s biggest hurricane. But what about this, God? What about twelve poll workers being ambushed and killed in Colombia yesterday? You, Lord God, who enemies ride over our heads?
Yesterday afternoon during parent conferences I served up Kleenex and a close-by trashcan along with the report cards and teacher comments. Life is hard. Beyond the middle school run-of-the-mill won’t do dishes and only wants to play computer games. Today one kid’s dad is getting out after five years in prison. And the kid is acting up and shrugging a lot. And I am pretty impressed that the uncle and aunt came along to the meeting along with the mother. And there’s the dad who is working both a day job and a night job to put food on the table. So it is really important that his daughter does well in school so that she will have more choices beyond should I take a quick nap on the couch or in the chair. And the hairdresser with pink hair who sobbed and sobbed and I had no words, so we prayed together for wisdom and grace.
Why would Adam and Eve ever want to eat of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Why did we want more than the goodness of the garden?
Ann calls it the serpent’s hissing lie, the repeating refrain of his campaign through the ages: Doubting God’s goodness, distrusting His intent, discontented with what He’s given, we desire. . . I have desired. . . more.
And somehow full moons remind me of the peoples. All the peoples of the world. And of course we peoples all look up at waxing moons and waning moons and new moons as well, except when we don’t because we are tucked in besides our electronics or our sight is blinded by the overhead neon and blinking lights, or I just wanted to curl into bed and try to pull the pillow over my head and sleep it away. But I don’t think we pause so much and marvel at ghostly galleon thin slices. But I am pretty sure that there is a mysterious catch in every peoples breath when we peoples glance up at the full glowing moon whispering, “Consider.”
And there was a full moon when we stepped outside last night into the soft autumn air. After we had gone around the circled couches and lifted up our many prayers for sisters and children and jobs and grandchildren again and again to a good God. And it was waiting for me as well as I crunched across the driveway gravel on my way to the pool this morning. Thinking about the psalmist who accuses God of bringing us into the snares and laying heavy burdens upon our shoulders and James who speaks of every good and perfect gift from the Father of Lights.
And because I have already read and reread 1000 Gifts, I know the punch line. And I have it dangling around my neck, a gift from my beloved sister: eucharisteo. A place of refreshment.
The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread, knowing its full implication and weight and whiplash pain and yet saw it as grace and gave thanks. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Joy. Ah. . . yes. I might be needing me some of that.
Bless our God, you peoples; make the voice of His praise to be heard;
Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip.
Bless the Lord, oh my soul.