Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

 Trust in the Providence of God

Psalm 121: 1-8
Vs 2: "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth."
Psalm 121 is known as a prayer given to a pilgrim who is about to embark on a journey. We are all pilgrims or sojourners on the earth - the temporary dwelling place. And this journey has a lot of ups and downs, unexpected circumstances, and struggles yet with moments of joy, contentment, and peace. Psalm 121 reminds us that the Lord will be there protecting, providing, and guiding us at every stage of our journey.

The first two verses are written from a first-person perspective and then it goes to a second-person perspective. It seems to be a conversation between two people beginning with a question - where will help come for me followed by the answer that the help comes from the Lord.

1) Help comes from the Creator: When we look back at the journey we have traversed so far, to whom do we attribute the achievements? Though we like to pronounce that it's the Lord who has helped us come so far, we do boast of our efforts, hard work, the choices we made, and the sacrifices we did in order to reach where we are today. 

When a mother conceives a child, we try to give a lot of care to the mother so that a healthy baby is formed. But do we have any control over what happens inside the womb? Even if we feed the mother a lot of food, sometimes the baby might not even reach a normal weight. So, in spite of everything we do, there is an unseen power that is at work - the Creator of everything. The world that we live in is also an extension of a mother's womb. We can do many things which we assume are in our control, but it is the Creator who is keeping us safe from dangers and giving us the opportunities, and health to do everything. Even as we read this devotion, we forget the power that is continuously healing our physical body and fighting against the life-threatening elements that enter our bodies. Is that in our control? As humans, we have our limitations. Beyond everything that we can see and hear, there is a God who is protecting us always. We need to submit ourselves to God to guide us along the way - to make the choices that He wants us to make and to accept every situation of life with love, grace, and peace in our hearts.

2) He protects us as we go and as we arrive: The phrase 'as we go' means as we begin our journey on earth - our birth. Unlike most animals and birds, we humans have the longest childhood and are dependent on our parents or elders for a very long time. We are dependent on them for care, protection, nutrition, and survival. When those around us give us their care and protection nurturing us to lead an independent and responsible life, they are partaking in the role of our Creator. It is through them that God protects us. So, when each one of us offers our care and support to others, we are becoming in union with the role of our Creator.

There are many among us who adopt children, many who work in orphanages and old-age homes, and many of us who take care of those who are helpless. In such responsibilities, as we take care of those who are not our blood relatives, we are extending the care of our Creator through our love and care. Isn't it such a beautiful act?

And the phrase 'as we arrive' indicates our arrival at the destination which is union with God - our death on this temporary earthly life. Death is not a welcoming thought for most of us. In spite of having strong faith, we tend to fear death - that hidden fear which no amount of money or power can neutralize. We prefer a sudden death where we do not have to wait and worry. We prefer to die when we are healthy so that we do not become a burden to others. We could desire all of this but how and when are we going to die is completely in God's control. Psalm 121:8 reminds us that God will be with us even as we approach death - the darkest of valleys - holding us even closer when we are afraid. The same thought is reiterated in Psalm 23:4 - 'Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.' Our shepherd is with us even in the darkest of valleys.

We need to strengthen ourselves each day in faith so that we do not fear the darkest of valleys of death. So that we embrace even our last moments with joy and peace in our hearts with the hope that now we will be with our Father in heaven. Let those around us experience the peace in our hearts even during our last moments where others might tremble and become restless. It is this faith and our relationship with God - the Creator, our Shepherd whose presence we can be assured of and in whose embrace, we must submit ourselves.

Let our going and arrival become an inspiration for those around us to hold on to this unfailing God who is with us at every stage of our life, who shows us the light for the journey and gives us peace as we arrive.
Father God, Thank you for the protection you offer at every stage of our life. Help us to never become boastful. Help us share our faith with those who have just embarked on their pilgrim journey. Guide us every moment so that we journey with you and never fear even as we arrive. Amen
Thought for the Day  
God is like oxygen. We cannot see Him but we will not be able to live without Him.

Dr. Elizabeth Jacob
The Mar Thoma Church, Staten Island

 Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church

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