The heart will sing

Friday

Psalm 121

Sunrise in Colorado

Sunrise in Colorado

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;

There is a certain song of faith, an overflowing joy born of the wonder of God’s goodness, that freely declares that God will protect you from all evil.  It is as natural an utterance as the declaration of lovers that nothing will ever stand between them.  We do, however, understand that disagreements come.  Disappointments, regrets, mistakes, sorrows – even betrayals.  But there is truth in the falling in love, even though life betrays it.

And there is truth in the declaration that “The Lord will keep you from all evil.”  Despite life’s sorrows.  Despite its haunting tragedies.  Despite those painful realities whose origin are probably much more in ourselves than in the stars.  Nations war.  Terrorists act.  Driver’s drink and innocents are struck down.  Sometimes evil happens.

But there is truth in the declaration that “The Lord will keep you from all evil.”  We would be wrong to deny it.  It’s not just that there is much that is hidden from our eyes, that there are days we arrive home safely without any knowledge how close we have come to disaster.  We stopped for coffee and missed a driver speeding through a red light – who could ever know?  What the hymnic declaration celebrates is the truth of God’s goodness.  Evil happens, yet it is not able to belie the surpassing kindness that embraces the creation – that embraces our own lives.  There are some who suffer terrible and unjust evils: children abused by parents, elders neglected, storms that sweep through homes and lives, stray bullets striking blocks away, crack babies – the list is not hard to compose.  But even those who endure such evils find unexpected goodness in the kindness of a stranger, in the warmth of an afternoon sun, in the thumping heartbeat of romantic love, in a kind ear or generous soul. There is darkness in the world, but it cannot overcome the light.  There is evil, but it cannot silence the kindness.  The truth of the psalmist’s song is not undone by evil.  The heart that knows the foundation of the world is love will sing.  “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

It is not “optimistic thinking”; it is not delusion; it is simple realism.  In the dark places of the world, love and kindness still shine.  And those who see life as pilgrimage to the holy are not overwhelmed by the detours.  They know that Easter trumps Good Friday.

So they sing:

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

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