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A excellent daily read to focus the mind during this Lenten season. Easy accessable and thought provoking. Recommended for all who want to develop a closer.
Table of contents
- Make a Donation to St. Scholastica Monastery
- Excerpt: 'Were You There? Lenten Reflections on the Spirituals' | Faith and Leadership
- Octave of Easter
During times of suffering, God can truly speak to you. It's a time when you can be genuinely open to God's word, because you have nothing left to lose. Despite his pain, the psalmist knew the priceless value of God's wisdom-wisdom he could read, meditate on, think through, and work out personally in his life. Even when that life was difficult. God offers three simple steps for tough times: call on God, accept God's deliverance, and honor God as a result. Of course, we all know that life-especially during the most troubling times-isn't handled quite so easily.
Yes, you can count on these three steps. But allow for much anguish, fear, grief, anger, and other tough emotions in the process. It's just the way we are-weak, untrusting, emotional human beings. It's hard for us to believe that God will hear our prayers, let alone rescue us from our difficulties. So time after time we force ourselves to relearn this lesson. We struggle to rebuild our trust in God. We do battle with our weak wills and doubting hearts. And time after time, God is faithful to rescue us. It's the rhythm of life as a child of God. The problems will come. Your faith will be shaken.
But in the midst of it all, don't forget that God is ready to hear and answer. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. In a way, the sacrifices pictured what God wanted to occur in the hearts of God's people-repentance, worship, thanksgiving, cleansing.
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They were intended to reflect the truth that dwelt within the hearts of people of faith. Often, however, the sacrificial system was often reduced to mere ritual-an end in itself rather than the means to the greater end of a rich relationship with God.
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In the midst of personal turmoil and remorse over his sin, the psalmist recognized this truth. The sacrifices God truly desired were not mere actions performed but the beliefs and attitudes behind them. The psalmist knew that a sin offering was meaningless unless it was given out of a broken, sorrowful spirit. The true sacrifice was the broken heart, not the literal broken body of an innocent animal. We can get caught up in empty ritual just as easily when we approach God out of habit rather than out of a desire to love and serve God. Search your heart, examine your motives, and come to God, who yearns for you to be honest, open, and ready.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. You are a complex creation. You will never be able to reach the depths of your existence, fully understand yourself, or ever finish exploring your being. Physically, your body is a marvel of efficiency, fascinating in its detail. Emotionally, you are full of rich texture and color and depth. Spiritually, there are no limits to what you can experience with God. God has made you to be so. God delighted to put your cells together the way they are.
You are the only person like you; no one else has your physical, emotional, and spiritual makeup. And that's a matter for rejoicing. God has made you as you are. With God, you can explore and grow and mature, becoming all that God intended you to be. How well does your soul know that?
How accepting of yourself are you? How freely and genuinely can you praise God for what God has made? O Most High, when I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
Excerpt: 'Were You There? Lenten Reflections on the Spirituals' | Faith and Leadership
Fear chills the bones and stirs the gut. Fear is sourced in anticipation of an undesired situation or event. We expect to be harmed in some way-physically or emotionally.
And we become frozen in that unwanted expectation. Sometimes there's a known cause for fear. Other times it seems to float through the body and soul without reason. If you don't deal with fear in healthy ways, it can cause you to get emotionally stuck or angry or depressed. And as time passes and anxiety grows, you become hardened in your fear.
When you acknowledge God's strength and sovereignty in your life, you realize that no human being can have any detrimental impact upon you beyond what you and God are able to bear. Life is full of waiting. Waiting for the light to change green. Waiting for the grocery checkout line to move. Waiting for the paycheck to come. Waiting to buy the house until you can really afford it. Waiting for love. Waiting for. As we wait, expectations build. And typically the expectations become greater than anything reasonable. Which leads not only to frustration in the waiting but disappointment in the fulfillment.
The psalmist reminds his soul to wait calmly and patiently for God alone. And to build expectations in God alone. By doing so, he would never be shaken by disappointment. What are you building your hopes on? A possible meaningful relationship? An acquired treasure?
Octave of Easter
A personal advance in your career? Something else?
Or are you placing your trust in God, your rock and fortress? God alone can provide true fulfillment. But how that fulfillment comes will probably be very different from what you expect. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen.