A Lament

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalm 25 (Morning)
Psalm 9, 15 (Evening)
Jer. 44:1-14
1 Cor. 15:30-41
Matt. 11:16-24

A Lament

Today’s morning psalmist is asking for help, specifically for deliverance from enemies. Even when we have friends in abundance, we still have enemies. Sometimes those enemies are in human form, but often they are insidious—illness, unemployment, pain, addiction, loss, disability, sin, and lack of time, education, shelter, food.

The aphorism “There are no atheists in a foxhole,” is often used to express the belief that many of us tend to seek a divine power when faced with adversity. This has been my experience.

Life can be humbling when we are called to endure, to forge forward alone, to risk convenience for passion, to set aside our immediate life for something wiser and more rewarding in the long term. To say, “I need help” is usually preceded by a dark and lonely journey.

Psalm 25:16-18
Turn thou to me, and be gracious to me;
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

In 1373, age 31, Julian of Norwich struggled alone in a cell while ill. She suffered isolation and physical pain. She was given last rites. But her lament received this answer, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” She died at age 74 in 1416, her legacy and faith still with us today.

By simply asking, we admit to faith in a higher power. The answer is easy and asks of us to take a breath—a cleansing breath that opens our heart, heals, offers insight, and forgiveness. The answer may not offer the course we want, and we may struggle with it, but the answer is always filled with compassion, empathy and grace.

Written by Elaine Williams

Elaine has been a member of St. Paul’s since 1985. She was a technical editor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and later served as managing editor of Arkansas Land and Life magazine. She also served as associate director of University Relations, and retired in 2003 after 17 years of service. St. Paul’s has been a wonderful refuge for which she is most grateful.

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