What feels certain today is that life is scary and hard. I have a roof over my head, food in my pantry, and money in the bank, but there is still a measure of grief and fear that seems to hang around. I am not living in a place where air raid sirens ring out continuously, where family members are torn apart by war, and where food is scarce, and yet an uneasy feeling sits in the pit of my stomach.
We know with certainty that we will wake up this morning, open our computers, and listen to news that will cause grief and anxiety to rise in us once again. That grief will climb its way onto our shoulders and travel with us throughout the day. We will cringe at the hate, thoughtlessness, and greed that we witness from people in the headlines and from people in our neighborhoods.
The uncertainties of this day will be enough to pray and lament over. But there are other certainties. Certainties that will bring us to our knees with prayers of gratitude. The gift of today’s lectionary text is the reading of Psalm 23.
In this Psalm, there is a lament. There is death and evil. There is the cry for God to walk with us through the valley and to give us courage in the face of evil.
And thankfully, the Psalm gives us certainties – certainties for this day and every day. May we cling to these certainties with a measure of gratitude and hope that God is with us in the valleys. God is shepherding us through. God is here. God anoints us with gracious love. God provides a way and dwells with us always.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.