Offering Encouragement (Psalm 40:6-11)

Last Sunday a good number of us gathered around the table as is our practice. Smiles were shared and an appreciation of the sun shining outside before we opened in prayer.

Of course following prayer, we reminded ourselves as to the prior weeks homework: to consider the storms of life we have experience & see if we might notice any patterns, as well as see if there might be a bit of encouragement God gave in remembering the past storms and how exactly God has been faithful.

While the sharing was slow-ish to begin, we heard how some can look back and see and remember and know that God is faithful and has always provided, but still find it hard to trust, to be patient (to even be still!) while a new storm is all around. We also heard how some might not consider what they go through to be (all that big of) storms, though it was interesting to hear that others in their life could remember times when God had covered & protected them & their family in challenging situations. Another shared a “how to” get through a storm — or avoid one in the first place — which included always including God, asking for help/wisdom/direction, and also waiting on God. Someone else named how none of us are promised a life without storms, in fact that we would have trials and tribulations — to which I posed the question as to whether or not people enjoy the storms of life? (A question that I still invite people to answer for themselves…do you enjoy the storms of life? Do they have value? If you might not say you “enjoy” the storms, what do you think of them? Do you appreciate them, despise them, something else? An extra life-work question!)

Not all answered, which is always fine — we are invited always to be discerning in when and how we share — and I also wonder, sometimes the storms that God has faithfully kept us in & through (and keeps us in & through) are too tender, too devastating, too expansive for everyone to hold — God is faithful and sometimes the encouragement is just for us in remembering, and sometimes the encouragement is meant to be shared one-on-one as the Holy Spirit guides and invites. Prayerfully, in the remembering of past storms & how God has been active in them we each were encouraged…

Then we pivoted to scripture, Psalm 40:6-11.

After listening & holding silence we named where the Holy Spirit invited us to notice. Considering the emphasis on speaking, holding that God is not asking us just to follow all the rules (“in sacrifice and offering you have not delighted”), wanting God’s mercy and steadfast love to keep us. And even noticing that in just the next verse there is this reality that God’s steadfast love and faithfulness are to preserve us — because we have been encompassed in evil and our hearts fail us!

There is much in these verses, inviting us to love God with all that we have, to desire to be in an active and intimate and vibrant relationship — one that we enjoy sharing about! Thus, it seemed only fitting to have a homework assignment for the week that invites us to speak about God’s faithfulness, God’s saving help, God’s love in our own lives! And that is the assignment, to encourage at least one person during the week in sharing how God has shown up in your own life & in your own storms. Y’all, it might be a bit vulnerable, and yet I invite us all to trust the promptings of the Holy Spirit and to share as we are directed with someone in need of the encouragement. (And y’all….how many of us know that we need encouragement, even when all looks ok — perhaps especially when all looks ok?).

In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater