"Support us, O Lord, all the day long of this troubled life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord, in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last, through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Portions of this Funeral Prayer, from the Book of Common Prayer accompany our God Pause reflections for this week)
Until the shadows of life lengthen...
Fretting is such a tempting thing to do. It makes us feel like we're doing something, attending to whatever it is that is causing us worry. How often do we feel the need to control things that we really have no way of controlling, even to our own ruin? We humans, given the chance, will do anything to feel that we are on top of things, that we control our own destiny, when in reality we have control over very few things in our lives. But coming to a point of acceptance, of walking a journey with God, even when we do not know how long the evening will last—such trusting that God is walking with us will cause our justice to shine like the noonday.
Let us pray,
When the shadows lengthen, O God, be present. May your loving arms enfold us, so that we may accept the things we cannot change. Give us courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference, so that our justice becomes like your justice, and our delight like your delight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Psalm 37 (NRSV)
1 Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers,
2 for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday.
7 Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices.
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For the wicked shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
10 Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous, and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that their day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to kill those who walk uprightly;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
16 Better is a little that the righteous person has than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will abide forever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times, in the days of famine they have abundance.
20 But the wicked perish, and the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
21 The wicked borrow, and do not pay back, but the righteous are generous and keep giving;
22 for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off.
23 Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way;
24 though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
26 They are ever giving liberally and lending, and their children become a blessing.
27 Depart from evil, and do good; so you shall abide forever.
28 For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his faithful ones. The righteous shall be kept safe forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and live in it forever.
30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak justice.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts; their steps do not slip.
32 The wicked watch for the righteous, and seek to kill them.
33 The Lord will not abandon them to their power, or let them be condemned when they are brought to trial.
34 Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on the destruction of the wicked.
35 I have seen the wicked oppressing, and towering like a cedar of Lebanon.
36 Again I passed by, and they were no more; though I sought them, they could not be found.
37 Mark the blameless, and behold the upright, for there is posterity for the peaceable.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off.
39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and rescues them; he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in him.