First Wednesday of Lent – Wednesday, March 1, 2019

March 13, 2019  

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16

Do you know what a “trust fall” is?
When I used to do trust falls at camp as a camp counselor, we would get all of the campers in our group to stand in a tight circle. Then we asked one camper to stand in the center of the circle. That camper was asked to cross her arms over her chest, close her eyes, and then fall back into the arms of the other campers, who would then pass her around the circle or across the circle.
It is called a “trust fall” for obvious reasons; the person in the center has to trust that he or she will be caught by those who make up the outer circle.

There is a clip I saw on YouTube of a family doing a “trust fall.”
It was obviously done at a church or church camp—there is a cross on the wall and the leader appears to be a pastor.
The leader asks one young gentleman, a guy that looks like he is in his twenties, to stand on a chair. The young man stands on the chair and takes a couple of deep breaths. He closes his eyes as the leader invites the rest of the group to gather around the chair. He tells the young man that, on the count of three, he should fall and the group will catch him.
The young man takes another deep breath, then another. The leader counts 1 – 2 – 3 and then the young man falls.
But—
The group was gathered around behind him to catch him as he fell backwards.
And he fell forward.
The video ends with the leader shouting “No! No!”
So we don’t know what happened next but we can guess.

Psalm 91 is a psalm about trust.
As it is written in verses 1 and 2:

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
Who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
Will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
My God, in whom I trust.”

Do you ever feel like you are falling?
Falling into the known or into the unknown—I’m not sure which is worse.
What is best is the knowledge that, as we fall, we can trust God to be with us.
We can trust that God will “bear us up” (Psalm 91:12).

Scholars do not agree on the origins of this psalm.
“Some suggest” it was written by “a person who had sought refuge in the Temple from persecutors” (“Psalm 91” The New Interpreter’s Bible vol. 4, p. 1046). “Others propose that the psalmist offered thankful testimony after recovery from a serious illness” (TNIB, p. 1046). Yet others suggest it might have been part of a liturgy used “by the king before a battle” (TNIB, p. 1046) or that it was a “testimony offered by a recent convert” (TNIB, p. 1046).

The point is, the psalm has “served throughout the centuries and continues to serve as a source of encouragement and strength” (TNIB p. 1047).

This psalm can serve as a source of encouragement and strength for us. When we feel like we are falling. Or when we feel like we are just plain stuck in a place we don’t want to be. Or when we are afraid. Or when we feel alone.

We are not alone. We can be afraid but we are not alone. We can feel stuck but we are not alone.
Knowing we are not alone, we can give ourselves, our whole selves to whatever it is we are feeling and/or thinking, knowing God is with us, supporting us, carrying us, lifting us, holding us, loving us through our feelings, loving us through our thoughts.
The psalmist wrote that God said

Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.
(Psalm 91:14-16)

This is not an insurance policy against suffering.
This is a promise made to God’s people: God is with us through our suffering.

And then, when our life on this earth has ended, there is a second promise:
God, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, promises us salvation from sin, into life everlasting.

Life with God.
Forever.
Amen.