For who is God except the Lord?
And who is a rock besides our God?
--Psalm 18:31 NRSV
On KC sports radio this morning, the program hosts talked about how thanks to Covid their internal measures of time have been disrupted. Normally, preseason pro football happens in August but not this year. This year NBA finals are happening now instead of months from now. Major league baseball has only been playing a month instead of since May. Each of the radio guys said it didn’t feel like it usually does a week before Labor Day weekend.
I share their feelings. Usually my sons have already started back to school in mid-August. At this time in normal times, I’m watching the Chiefs preseason games and picking who I think will make the roster. Most summers I’m debating which summer blockbuster movies are the best. In every other summer, my family and I are trying to get in as many trips as we can to local pools before they close for the season. The routine of my life has been disrupted.
Maybe you feel the same way. It can be jarring when our expectations of what life will bring go unmet. We know that life potentially can be upended at any moment, but we are creatures who long for routine and the security of knowing what comes next. To live during such a time of uncertainty means living with a level of vigilance that can become exhausting after a while.
There are spiritual lessons in this time of upheaval if we are willing to take them in. These days of living with a pandemic remind us that there are no true guarantees in life. Only God remains present and secure in the many twists and turns of our lives.
The Psalmist asks, “For who is God except the Lord? And who is a rock besides our God?” In this poetic language lurks the question, “What is truly secure besides God?” We invest people, relationships, objects, governments, bank accounts, etc. with a belief they are permanent, but none truly are. Relationships change. People can be fickle. Governments come and go. Houses and money can be lost as the economy changes. Only God remains as firm as an unmovable rock but as close as a loving friend.
20th century theologian Paul Tillich wrote in his classic book The Shaking of the Foundations:
Providence is the faith that nothing can prevent us from fulfilling the ultimate meaning of our existence. Providence does not mean a divine planning by which everything is predetermined, as is an efficient machine. Rather, Providence means that there is a creative and saving possibility implied in every situation, which cannot be destroyed by any event.
No matter our circumstances, the one thing that remains constant is God’s creating and saving work in every moment of our lives. Put a different way, Jesuit priest Pedro Arrupe wrote:
"I am quite happy to be called an optimist, but my optimism is not of the utopian variety. It is based on hope. What is an optimist? I can answer for myself in a very simple fashion: He or she is a person who has the conviction that God knows, can do, and will do what is best..."
Life happens. Calamity can strike in a sudden and random manner. Our sense of security and well-being can be lost in an instant, because who or what we have invested ultimate assurance in turns out not to be God. Yet, despite life’s travails and our reactions to them, God remains with us and will do what is best for us under the circumstances.
You are not alone if you feel the disorientation of these days. Plenty of folks are right there with you. Most of all, God is right there with you, and no matter what comes in this life, God will remain constant.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Chase Peeples
6601 Northwest 72nd Street, Kansas City, MO 64151 | 816-741-1851