This Psalm echoes the experience of Job, whose prosperity was plunged into lengthy devastation before he was restored to well-being. Walter Brueggemann describes the events of this Psalm as representing states of orientation, disorientation and new orientation. This is the experience which many of us know at times in our lives, and speaks to those back and forth, up and down cycles of confidence and confusion.
Obviously this psalm was written long before the time of Jesus, yet in it we can see parallels with the story of resurrection, which echoes around the cosmos:
Life. Death. New Life.
Many of us find ourselves either in the midst of a crisis, or just getting over a crisis, or unaware that a crisis is just around the corner. Crisis is part of our normal cycle. Life for most of us has always included death, tragedy, and trauma, and most people experience movement through all these cycles.
As people of faith we have an opportunity to see a bigger picture, a wider meaning that allows us to stand firm with both confidence and humility. We’re challenged to give credit to God: thanks when things are going well, hope when things are not going well, and praise when things open up into new possibilities.
This doesn’t mean that God moves humans about like chess pieces. Rather, we believe that our Maker holds everything together and is always working for goodness and wholeness, even when the normal human cycles bring crisis and confusion, we can trust that God is constantly offering hope and new possibilities.
God, you have not promised skies always blue, Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through; God, you have not promised sun without rain, Joy without sorrow, peace without pain. But you have promised strength for the day, Rest for the labour, light for the way, Grace for the trials, help from above, Unfailing kindness, undying love; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. .
Rev’d Michael Hopkins, Minister of a group of Methodist and United Reformed Churches based around Farnham, Surrey, and Clerk of the URC General Assembly.