Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"God be merciful to me"

Gracious God, my hope renew
Make my spirit right and true
Cast me not away from Thee,
Let Thy Spirit dwell in me
Thy salvation's joy impart
Steadfast make my willing heart
--The Psalter (based on Ps. 51)

I do need my hope renewed. Even though I haven't experienced anything drastically hope-destroying lately, life is full of minor disappointments and tragedies. People are struggling. Their hearts cry out. "Why does every guy look right past me?" "How can God send people to hell when their actions and choices were conditioned by their environment and genetics?!" "How can God's message to us be a story full of violence and even rape?" "When will I not be alone?" "How can I save my daughter?" "What's wrong with me?"

I try to be a good friend, to give the right advice, to offer a comforting hug, to keep people in my prayers, to provide answers. But most of these questions don't seem to have answers--or if they do, I don't know them--or if I do, I can't put them in words--or if I can, there is another question behind that one. Point is, I can't fix things. The brokenness is a temptation to despair.

Temptations are to be resisted, and virtue happens partly by an act of will. I choose to hope.

But that choice faces the same problem as all the others. I can't fix myself, either. The things I believe are not always the things I feel. I don't know them with my heart. Ultimately, the ability to hope is not within my control. Gracious God, my hope renew. I cannot renew it myself.

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