Time For God: Day 24

Written by Paul Beckingham

Focus: Psalm 129:2-3
“Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me. The plowers plowed on my back; they made their furrows long.”

The Windy City moves forward at its own unique pace. Palpable electricity buzzes through the Chicago atmosphere. The unanticipated must be expected every day.

A stranger joined me at my table in the fast food restaurant. Sitting silently opposite me, he watched intently each time I raised my fork. His wordless message was clear; silently articulate. I rose, walked a few paces, returning within minutes. I passed him the same breakfast meal I’d earlier bought myself. Together we ate in happy silence.

Out on the street another man approached me. He smiled, speaking in a loud and genial way. “See here, sir!” he smiled. “Look!” he pointed to his torso as he lifted his tee-shirt to reveal his chest. I counted three round scars. “Yes, sir.” That’s where I was shot.” After a brief conversation we parted amiably, like lifelong friends.

The day I arrived, the City News ran a story. They detailed seventeen wounded in weekend shootings in South Chicago, not far from my hotel. Life can be rough; for some it is seriously dangerous. Life’s unforeseen events will appraise our resilience.

There is an invisible stress-bucket inside each of us. It collects each drop of stress that we experience in our lives. Stress is cumulative. When we reach a hidden limit, one small drop more will take us to our breaking point. PTSD is trauma’s legacy.

Like a man exposing his scars, the psalmist reveals personal suffering. He shows his injury. A pity party this is not. Self-pity’s dark diversion builds a noxious prison cell. The psalmist’s pain is unfeigned, revealing genuine scars: The plowers plowed on my back; they made their furrows long. Deep furrows reveal long-term wounds.

He refers to foes as “they”—covert, un-named, and unspecified. They pose an ongoing and imminent threat to life and limb. The psalmist’s pain recounts the story of his life: they have afflicted me from my youth. They still bring him fear and grave distress. The psalmist’s story is not yet over; they have not overcome him.

The psalmist trusts that defeat shall not be faith’s final word. No cheap triumph is on display here. The quiet voice of faith affirms, yet they have not prevailed against me.

When has a personal challenge lasted longer than you feel it should? How did God intervene for you then? How does that experience strengthen your hope, today?
 Lord, bring mercy and grace, your peace and love into my situation today. Thank you, Father. In the power of your overcoming Name, I pray. Amen.

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