Scripture Focus: Psalm 74:9
9 We are given no signs from God;
     no prophets are left,
     and none of us knows how long this will be.

Reflection: Edge of the Abyss
By Erin Newton

Laments are uttered when we come to the end of ourselves. The strong have no need for laments.

We watch as the psalmist lays before God the wretched state of emotions. The sanctuary is ruthlessly destroyed with wave after wave of terror. There is no hope of relief. The psalmist stands and stares into the darkness. Federico Villanueva aptly describes the collective emotion behind Psalm 74, describing the people as “those who are ‘balancing on the edge’ of such an abyss.”

The abyss of despair is like the watery depths of the ocean. It can be a pool of murky water concealed in a dark cave. The feeling is solitary and overwhelming. It can sometimes be the turbulent whirlpools sending all creatures crashing to the ocean floor. The feeling is crushing—helpless, hopeless, vulnerable.

Not many of us will watch someone physically destroy church buildings or burn places of worship. But the psalmist says, “the place where you met with us.” Humanity once walked among the trees with God in Eden. Now, we meet with God in our prayers, in our meditation, in our worship, in our study, and in our fellowship.

Axmen still come and wield their sharpened tools. Someone can come along and destroy these holy meeting places with lies and deception. Organizations can fell the trees of our faith with silence and threats.

When it seems like hope is lost, each breath becomes the song of the lament. Where are you, God? Why are you not here? How long will this last?

The same images of despair become the beacon of hope. The darkness, the waters, the cold, the monsters— these become the message of promise. What God has done in the past gives hope for what he will do in the future.

God harnessed the expanse of the universe, setting boundaries for the sun and the moon. The seasons were set in motion bringing spring to follow winter. Leviathan, chaos incarnate, was crushed and tossed as food to wild animals.

The God who subdues the terrors of the abyss—infinite space, lifeless winter, raging dragon, soul-crushing despair—is the same God who hears the lament of his people.

Let us call upon the God who closes the mouth of the abyss and ask him to remember the vulnerable and the abused. May no person take an ax to the place where God meets with his creation.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Send forth your strength, O God; establish, O God, what you have wrought for us. — Psalm 68.28

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Kings 21 (Listen 4:06
Psalms 74 (Listen 2:34)

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