The Upper Room devotional reflection for Wednesday, June 8, 2022 comes to us from Karla Sue Lowe-Phelps of Missouri
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23 NIV
“From Grief to Hope”
One day on a hike, I could see my intended destination: a grove of spruce trees towering above me. However, a thick briar patch stood in my way. Pulling clippers from my back pocket, I grasped the first briar stem, cut it, and tossed it aside. Slowly, I cut a trail leading through the thicket of thorns. Halfway up the hill, I realized how this process paralleled my recent faith journey. For months, grief had overwhelmed me, making daily time with God seem impossible. I knew that scripture answered my sorrow with assurance. But the briars of sadness still seemed to block out hope.
As I pressed on up the hill I decided to clip my stems of sadness with the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17). In rhythm with my snipping of the literal thorns, I repeated Psalm 23. With each cut and phrase, I felt myself step out of the earthly and spiritual valley of briars. Smelling the sweet fragrance of pine, I looked up at the sundrenched trees swaying as living psalms to their Creator. God’s creation reminded me that reciting and trusting in God’s word sustains us and gives us hope.
Grief has always been a part of life. Even many animals are seen to grieve when one of their “herd” dies. But Karla Sue Lowe-Phelps offers a reminder that God embraces us and soothes us, even in the midst of the most horrific grief that we experience.
Recent violent shootings have reminded us that grief is not always personal. All of us grieve for the lost lives and the horrific violence we have been witnessing in schools, other public places, and on battlefields around the world. Even in all that grief and pain, we are called to pray and trust that God sustains us always and everywhere.
Dear Lord, thank you for your word that sustains us in grief. Thank you for meeting us in your creation as a way to comfort, renew, and refresh our hearts with hope. Amen.
--Karla Sue Lowe-Phelps
To Face Grief with Renewed Hope
Thought for the Day:
God meets me in my sadness.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.
Psalm 42:11 (NRSV)