Psalm 30 (NRSV)
Verse 1I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
Verse 2O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
Verse 3O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
Verse 4Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.
Verse 5For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Verse 6As for me, I said in my prosperity, "I shall never be moved."
Verse 7By your favor, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
Verse 8To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication:
Verse 9"What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Verse 10Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!"
Verse 11You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
Verse 12so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
I’m trying to remember the last time I did not feel “dismayed,” a word Webster defines as “a sudden loss of courage or resolution from alarm or fear.” My own sense of dismay has been far from “sudden.” It is cumulative. Every week for the past thirty-seven years I have worked to proclaim the coming “Kingdom of God.” I am occasionally treated to a brief glimpse, teased by its emergence—only to have that glimpse dashed again by the entropy of trying to move human hearts, minds, or recalcitrant systems.
Yet, today the psalmist reminds me that all agency in this world is really God’s initiative. Joy comes in recognizing God moving in the most unlikely of events, quite apart from any of my own efforts. Dismay may be a pastor’s lot in life. However, it largely comes from thinking that bringing in the Kingdom is in some way my work.
It is not my work. It is God’s.
You spared me from going down into the pit, O Lord. Lift up my eyes from my own hubris toward your face. Let me see the Kingdom’s emergence, not in my own actions or hopes, but in your movement in this world. Amen.