The psalm never promises no sorrow, but rather that we will survive the sorrow that does come. The evil and the scourge are all around us, but they need not overcome us or dwell with us. Instead, we can dwell with God.
About Marcus Hong
Marcus A. Hong is a child of God, the Director of Field Education and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, a PhD Candidate in Christian Education and Formation at Princeton Theological Seminary, and a cultivator of worship who has served in congregations, college chapels, and youth groups for over fifteen years. A lover of movies, fantasy literature, poetry and songwriting, Marcus and his wife Sarah have their hands blessedly full raising two precocious children.
Entries by Marcus Hong
So when we respond to our young people who are suffering, or who feel overwhelming guilt, or who wonder why bad things happen, may we first listen—without rushing to judgment, without trying to fix things, without spreading blame. And then, let us find in that guilt the longing for God.
… the person who is worthy to come is worthy not because they have been to church, been baptized, taken communion, or ritually cleansed themselves in some way… None of this negates the moral and ethical norms to which God calls us… But it begins the conversation on a different foot.
We use the word ubiquitous when the slow dawning realization finally creeps up on us that there is something in the world that we cannot escape… There’s just enough of God’s presence—everywhere—that I cannot escape. No wonder we speak of God’s haunting presence as the Holy Ghost.
How can I hear God’s voice of freedom and love in the midst of my suffering? Am I attentive to God’s presence amongst those people I’d rather not encounter? When I’m in a situation that seems utterly foreign to me, am I more likely to put up my defenses or make the effort to retain an openness to what God has in store?
I could say that God has brought me to the brink of death dozens of times. Or I could say that God has snatched me from the brink of death dozens of times. And when I look to the future, I could live worried about all of the things that might come to pass; or I could live confident of the ways that God will see me through even those things that do come to pass.
I cry out to God to change things, to fix things… this is a dangerous prayer to pray. This prayer will not let me stay prostrate on my bed; this prayer will not let me cower in fear. This prayer moves me from passive pleading to active trust. It reminds me that, even in the depths of my helplessness, it may be through me that God brings salvation.
Our preaching, our music, our ministries, our acts of service—we do them with excellence and care not because they need to be the best, or because we think God will be more pleased with us the better they are. We do them with care because of our steadfast love for God and the steadfast love for others that flows from God’s love for all of us.
These kind of songs help us to do the work of faith when faith is hard. They bind us together in a shared memory of God’s deliverance… Singing together reminds us that we are not alone.
The moments when righteousness and peace actually kiss each other are like lembas bread for me. They sustain me when life isn’t so great. They keep me on the path, even when I don’t want to keep going.
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