March 7, 2018- The Courts of the Lord and Trusting God- Psalm 84

god's courts

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!  My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob.  Look on our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one.

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

 Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you. Psalm 84 (NIV)

Trust is central to the human experience. Psychologist Erik Erickson explains this in his theory of child development. In Erikson’s first psychosocial stage, which he names as trust vs. mistrust, and lasts from birth until the age of around eighteen months, children learn to trust (or to mistrust) the world around them.  Children should be able to trust that their parents or caretakers are going to keep them fed, clean and secure.  According to Erikson, children who do not receive appropriate care in that early stage will continually struggle with mistrusting the world around them.  There is research that supports children who do not grow up learning to trust parents and caregivers are prone to trust issues and anxiety for the rest of their lives.

Most people experience varying degrees of mistrust. Sometimes it truly isn’t safe to trust the environment around us, and a healthy sense of trepidation is necessary. Even in a place of relative security, people who live with chronic (and sometimes unwarranted) anxiety for whatever reason, whether it be from traumatic childhoods, from chemical imbalances in their brains, or from experiences later in life, have a very difficult time with trust.  It’s hard to trust God when people have let you down- or when your own brain chemistry plays tricks on you.

Faith in God is a gift to us from the Holy Spirit. We are not able to come to faith save for God’s intervention.  In our Baptism we are named and claimed as God’s own.  He gives us the comfort of knowing that even though we can’t always trust the world around us, or even trust ourselves, God is always faithful and worthy of our trust.

The Kingdom of God is everywhere God is- which is everywhere! In a sense we are already present in God’s courts, when we gather with our family and friends, when we pray, when we experience God’s presence in Holy Communion.  We can take joy in those moments now, as well as we look forward to the day when we will be living completely and fully in God’s Kingdom forever.

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