Psalm 26:1-7

Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you.

I do not sit with the worthless, nor do I consort with hypocrites;

I hate the company of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked.

I wash my hands in innocence, and go around your altar, O Lord, singing aloud a song of thanksgiving, and telling all your wondrous deeds. Psalm 26:1-7

Somewhere along the way we come across the crazy idea that life is supposed to be fair. It is a crazy idea. Life isn’t fair any more than all trees should be evergreens or all people should be a certain color. God creates diversity, not sameness. If anything is fair along the way, it is because we decided to apply the concept we call “fairness” to that particular situation.

Floods teach us that life isn’t fair. Floods expose the geographical realities imposed on us by gravity. We made about 160 calls to families in our church today and again I was reminded of how fundamentally unfair life is. Many told us that the water came within inches of entering their home but they came out dry. Others said that theirs was the only home on the block not to flood. That isn’t fair but it isn’t supposed to be fair. It is what it is.

My daughter lives in my old house. When Allison hit Houston back in 2001 I got about two inches of water in half of the house. I had to tear out the carpet and install tile. It was a nice upgrade. This time my daughter lost a car they just bought last week and had over 4 feet of water in the house. It will probably be days before we can even get to it to start cleaning it up. Kelley and I weren’t hurt at all. Our street didn’t even flood. That isn’t fair. But it is what it is.

The Psalmist invites God to “Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and mind.” Disasters like this flood are truly a time of testing. Testing not as in trying to get all the answers right but testing as in removing the impurities from metal, exposing the depths of our character.

I read about things like people looting, or cutting in line for food at shelters, or making things difficult for volunteers and first responders, or second guessing political leaders who are truly trying to do their best, or people scamming those hit by floodwaters, and it makes me angry. I wonder what happened in the lives of people to twist their characters into something cruel and greedy and self-centered. Something that just gives in to sin rather than fights against it. Something that just doesn’t care anymore. Something that can use but no longer love.

I think about the conversations I had yesterday with people from our church. Those who were flooded and lost nearly everything told me “it’s just stuff, we’ll be OK”. Those who came out dry told me, “Just let me know what we can do to help.” A leader of our Stewardship Committee spent Monday and Tuesday helping the Bellaire Fire Department rescue people. He walked alongside his kayak bringing senior citizens to safety. He told me “it was scary when the water was over my head and I couldn’t touch.” THAT is Christian character in action.

Yes, trials do test our faith. Sometimes we come out wanting. Sometimes we need the witness of others to kick us in the pants and get us into the game. And sometimes we are brought to a place where we realize that we really do believe “it’s just stuff.” We fight against sin with love.

The storm is largely over. At least for us in Houston. Now the recovery begins. Like just about every injury in life, the recovery takes a whole lot longer. It isn’t fair, it just is what it is. And God will see us through.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, when our patience wears thin, give us struggles to make us wait. When we recognize our blessings, challenge us to share. Use us, as your hands and arms and feet, to lift up those who have been beaten down. Test our faith and see us through. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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3 Responses to “Psalm 26:1-7”

  1. Carol Minehardt, Lamb of God Lutheran, Simpsonville, SC Says:

    Faith is in your church name but it also resides within your soul. Your optimistic attitude is a blessing to those whom you minister.
    May the God of us all continue to give you the fortitude to meet any obstacle by relying on His will, grace and mercy.
    Praying for the people of Texas and all impacted by Harvey.

  2. Betty Ann Says:

    Beautifully said. I live in Eastern NC and we were in a similar situation last year, everything you write is true. Blessings to all who are feeling the effects of this storm.

  3. Carolee Groux Says:

    Your perceptions are so true: life isn’t fair, justice can be unjust; we can be fortunate one week and unlucky the next. There are no guarantees as to what we will face or have to overcome. We have to acknowledge that when bad things happen, good people will be hurt. To go beyond that we have to have faith in our Lord to get through the trials and tribulations of life. When we come through the storm to the blessed light we thank God. In the Houston area people are helpful and kind to others; amidst angst one sees love.

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