Delighting in God’s Way
Happy are those who delight in God’s Way. (Psalm 1:2; Please read Psalm 1 in its entirety.)
We are beginning a spiritual journey with the Psalms, that will take us through the next month or so and can guide you for your whole life long. The Psalms are appropriate for this time of pandemic. They address every situation of life. Some are filled with grief and lamentation; others with anger and vengeance; still others with joy, celebration, and affirmation. There are Psalms of elation and Psalms of confession. Noted biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann speaks of three movements in the Psalms – orientation, when life is sweet and we are happy and fulfilled personally and nationally; disorientation, when everything falls apart personally and nationally; and new orientation, when we experience restoration, when we feel a sense of recovery and healing, though life will never return to the old normal, a new normal is possible and we rejoice.
We are in a state of disorientation these days. We are disoriented by the uncertainty of the Coronavirus, our concern for our health and the health of loved ones, the nation’s economic collapse and inability to marshal a coherent response to the crisis, and fear that this is the beginning of immense journey for which we hadn’t prepared.
German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) asserted, “two things fill the mind with increasing wonder and awe…the starry heavens above and the moral law within.” The first Psalm sets the stage for the 149 psalms that will follow. I have used the term “way” instead of “law,” because the word way describes not only morality and legality, but the operations of the universe moving through our lives and inspiring our behaviors. The Psalmist believes that human morality and the divinely inspired laws of the people reflect the ultimate order and creativity of the universe. The way of God, the law, guides the heavens and the human heart, and when we align ourselves with God’s way, we will experience joy even in challenging times.
What does this mean today? It means that there is a deeper law to the universe that guides stars and spirits than what we humans can fathom. It means that our planetary and personal histories, the history of this pandemic, is part of a larger picture. What we glean from this is that even in times of trial, we are called to be our best selves, to follow the higher angels of our nature, as Lincoln said.
These days, it means that the moral and spiritual arcs of history flow through us and guide us even in troubled times. Sickness and pandemic challenge us to be our best selves and not our worst selves. To paraphrase the philosopher Nietzsche, we need to be worthy of our sufferings during this pandemic. We need to be among the healers and helpers, the unifiers and reconcilers, not the dividers and confusers, the greedy and the alienators. We need to stand with truth, love, and compassion.
Let us follow God’s way, the way of peace and reconciliation, the way of courage and love, today.
Loving God, awaken us to your Way in our households, friendships, hobbies, and service to the community. Deliver us from naysaying and disparaging and welcome us into your kingdom of compassion and creativity. Amen.
Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, professor, and author of over 50 books including FAITH IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC and GOD ONLINE: A MYSTIC’S GUIDE TO THE INTERNET.