November 02, 2008

What We Hope For

There are quite a few instances in today's readings that emphasize trust in God, hope in His protection. That can be a hard thing to do - to put your trust in God - especially when we're assaulted by so many things in the physical world. Its such an important point that some Christians have boiled everything down to that one question - can you put your trust in Jesus Christ as your personal savior?

From the Book of Wisdom, we read: "The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them." (Wis 3:1) Certainly, that's not true on a physical level. Plenty of faithful people get hurt. Your personal torments may be very, very small or very, very large, but they are there. Christ Himself suffered to the point of crying out from the cross. We suffer emotional torment as well. Great loss and pain can make us feel like God has abandoned us, and even Christ felt that, to the point of crying it out from the cross.

What torment is Wisdom promising we will avoid, then? Not physical or emotional torment, which are corporeal, time-centered things, but the torment of the soul. When we turn ourselves over to God, He protects the one thing that most needs protecting, the one thing that truly matters - our soul.

The Psalm today (Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6) - perhaps the best known - seems so contradictory when examined closely. I am walking in the valley of darkness, yet I am given repose in verdant pastures. Anyone who has suffered, looking superficially at the final verses, should be shocked at the psalmist's audacity. Only goodness and kindess follow me? Can we truly say that?

Clearly, we're not talking about what's following us every day on this earth. Again, we're talking about the state of our soul. If our soul is protected - if we let that little sheep follow the Good Shepard - then we are safe in the one way that matters most.

What a trust to put in God - that there is something more valuable being protected when we feel so much pain, that our soul is shaded and safe when we feel nothing but heat and pain. But as Paul reminds us today (Rom 5:5), "hope does not disappoint"!

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