Reflection How do we find confidence to live faithfully in a corrupt and unfair world where the wicked appear to prosper whilst the good suffer and where God seems absent? Through a journey of emotions, the Psalmist invites us to share with him in his experience of God. He moves from plain ignorance, to angry frustration, to experiencing a new, radical outlook on life to discovering an enlightened confidence. He renews his relationship with God in spite of his circumstances. God is good! Yet, for the Psalmist, like many of us, it has not always felt that God is good. Faced with suffering, affliction and new punishments every day, he sees the wicked prosper, increasing in riches. There are so many questions left unanswered and his heart is pierced. We have sympathy with him for there is a mystery about evil which remains unresolved even with the light of resurrection hope. This shakes the Psalmist’s faith to the very core – bringing him to despair until…until he goes into God’s sanctuary, into the place where he can think and pray and get proper perspective on his situation and the situation of the wicked. He sees evil for what it is. The wicked have no future. Against this puzzling backdrop, the Psalmist enters the reality of religious experience. Rekindling a relationship with God so intimate, he realises that, despite his own feet slipping, God has always remained near, holding his right hand and guiding him with counsel. God is his rock, the strength of his heart. God is his constant. When we falter and stumble and retreat into self-pity, God will not give it up on us until what he has begun in us is completed. A hopeful message at the start of the New Year.
Prayer Let my heart, O God, always recognise you are there in the midst of my life. Direct all that is me toward your praise. May nothing ever distract me from your love, neither health nor sickness wealth nor poverty happiness nor despair. Energise me in your service so that I may always be the person you intend me to be. Amen.
The Rev’d Nicola Furley-Smith, URC Secretary for Ministries