Date: April 8
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/WeekdaysOfLent/FridayFifthWeek.html
Contributor: Pippa Lindwright
“The breakers of death rolled over me, and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid.” Psalm 18:4
There is so much fear in the world. Over and over we are told to fear … animals, the weather, future events, other people, failing to live up to our expectations … and the list goes on. Often, we are told we need not fear if we buy this product or that service, and our whole commerce system seems to depend on buying things to guard against our fear. Our minds too, excel at thinking up things we can fear. While perhaps there were solid evolutionary reasons to hear a rustle in the bushes and think “lion” instead of “wind,” it is also true that excess fear can freeze us in place, psychologically and spiritually.
Today’s psalmist pulls no punches and does not try to minimize their fear. They say that “the breakers of death rolled over me, and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid.” And truly, isn’t that our ultimate fear? That in death we will find, not God, but oblivion? As Jesus prepares for Palm Sunday, arranging the loan of the donkey and preparing to enter Jerusalem, I wonder how much of his mind focused on the possibility of the “breakers of death” leading to oblivion instead of God. Did he doubt? Did he worry?
Of course, I cannot know for sure what Jesus thought as he approached Palm Sunday and the rest of Holy Week. But I have faith that like the psalmist any fear he felt was confronted by his faith. After all, as scared as the psalmist is, he has great faith that once his call reaches God, God will come down in power and might to scare off anything troubling the psalmist. And why does God do this? He rescues the psalmist “because he delighted in me.”
In the midst of our fear, we are reminded that we have a God who delights in us, coming to our side, and never leaving us alone. We might face adversity, danger, grief and pain, but we never do so alone. Indeed, we are protected by God’s love, which nothing can overpower. Even when Jesus dies, God’s love will stay with us, constant and sure. There is much to fear in the world, but ultimately, we are reminded that it will not, cannot triumph. We are blessed with a God who became human for us. A God who lived and walked with us, and even debated with those who would stone him, trying to teach them a better way in the midst of their fear and violence (John 10:31-42). So when the breakers of death cause you to fear, worry not. Your God is a strong rock, and you are standing firmly on solid ground.