I have stress in my life. School deadlines loom, coming up, as always, much more quickly than anticipated. Procrastination once agains doles out its consequences. Too many responsibilties leave me wishing for a (healthy) day off from everything.
But today I feel ok, and part of it has to do with Psalm 143, the Psalm for the week in my devotional book:
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness;
answer me in your righteousness.
2 Do not enter into judgment with your
servant, for no one living is righteous before you.
3 For the enemy has
pursued me, crushing my life to the ground, making me sit in darkness like
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within
5 I remember the days of old, I think about all your
meditate on the works of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands
to you; my
soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah
7 Answer me
quickly, O Lord;
my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me, or I shall
be like those who go
down to the Pit.
8 Let me hear of your steadfast
love in the morning, for in
you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should
go, for to you I lift up my soul.
9 Save me, O Lord, from my enemies; I have
fled to you for refuge.
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let
your good spirit lead me on a
11 For your name’s sake, O
Lord, preserve my life. In your
righteousness bring me out of trouble.
12 In your steadfast love cut off my
enemies, and destroy all my
adversaries, for I am your servant. (NRSV)
Now, usually I'm not a big fan of this type of Psalm. All the "smiting of enemies" and "destruction of adversaries" doesn't mesh well with my peace-loving and peace-making personality. Today, however, having spent yesterday just trying to breathe deeply to abate my stress and anxiety,
it occured to me who my enemies were. They are not people, they're feelings.
Not all feelings, of course, but those destructive feelings that leave me (and many of us) frozen and feeling awful and vulnerable to illness: Stress, Anxiety, and Helplessness.
So as I read it, every time I saw the word "enemy" or "adversary" I thought "stress." I found myself more and more relaxed and comforted as I went through the verses. Save me from my stress, God. Adonai, rescue me from my anxiety. It just about brought me to tears.