Lectionary Readings: 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49; Psalm 9:9-20; 1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 18:10-16; Psalm 133; Job 38:1-11; Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41
The first of the readings today is the classic story of David and Goliath. [The story reminds me of the episode from the original Star Trek program (Arena) where Captain Kirk has to fight the captain of the Gorn ship – winner’s ship goes free, loser’s ship is destroyed. Yeah, so there’s that…]
Anyway Goliath, the champion of the bad guys, challenges the champion of the good guys to fight on behalf of their respective armies. Goliath is a tough hombre (yeah I speak a little Spanish … my other word is ‘ola’). He’s ten feet tall (or more likely six-and-a-half) and full of confidence and attitude. The Israelites don’t have anybody willing to fight with him until an unlikely young shepherd shows up bringing his brothers some egg salad sandwiches and juice boxes for lunch. The boy figures God is with them so, armed with just his slingshot he takes on the challenge, hits the giant in the head with a stone knocking him down, then cuts the guy’s head off because, well … good theatre.
The last of the readings today is another story, this one from Jesus’ life and I’ve copied it below:
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” – Mark 4:35-41 NIV
We read these stories affectionately but they weren’t exactly warm, fuzzy experiences for the people in them. As we read them we see familiar themes of fear, danger, doubt, anxiety and trust. We imagine that we see God rescuing in each of the circumstances. Primarily though, the passages today are not about rescue but about God with us.
We all face giants of various types at different times in our lives but if you consider this reading along with the other Lectionary readings one of the thoughts that binds them together is that, although we live in a dangerous world, God does not leave us alone. We’re reminded that God is the boss of it all.
Trouble happens; life is unfair; darkness can engulf us. I’m not suggesting that we will always see justice or that resolution to our troubles will look the way we want. But God is still good. God still cares. God doesn’t just rescue from the storm but ultimately, as the full story unfolds, God even owns the storm.
What is the giant or storm I am facing in my life right now?
Consider the final sentence above, ‘…God even owns the storm.’ What confidence or hope is contained in that idea?
If I am not facing trouble now, what will I trust in when I inevitably do?
Lord, in every need let me come to You with humble trust saying, “Jesus, help me.”
In all my doubts, perplexities, and temptations, Jesus, help me.
In hours of loneliness, weariness, and trials, Jesus, help me.
In the failure of my plans and hopes; in disappointments, troubles, and sorrows, Jesus, help me.
When others fail me and Your grace alone can assist me, help me.
When I throw myself on Your tender love as a father and savior, Jesus, help me.
When my heart is cast down by failure at seeing no good come from my efforts, Jesus, help me.
When I feel impatient and my cross irritates me, Jesus, help me.
When I am ill and my head and hands cannot work and I am lonely, Jesus, help me.
Always, always, in spite of weakness, falls, and shortcomings of every kind, Jesus, help me and never forsake me.