By Kristen Gunn

A Reading from Psalm 56

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
for my enemies are hounding me;
all day long they assault and oppress me.

2 They hound me all the day long;
truly there are many who fight against me, O Most High.

3 Whenever I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.

4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust and will not be afraid,
for what can flesh do to me?

5 All day long they damage my cause;
their only thought is to do me evil.

6 They band together; they lie in wait;
they spy upon my footsteps;
because they seek my life.

7 Shall they escape despite their wickedness?
O God, in your anger, cast down the peoples.

8 You have noted my lamentation;
put my tears into your bottle;
are they not recorded in your book?

9 Whenever I call upon you, my enemies will be put to flight;
this I know, for God is on my side.

10 In God the LORD, whose word I praise,
in God I trust and will not be afraid,
for what can mortals do to me?

11 I am bound by the vow I made to you, O God;
I will present to you thank-offerings;

12 For you have rescued my soul from death and my feet
from stumbling,
that I may walk before God in the light of the living.


I don’t know about you, but most of my suffering in this life has tended not to come from famine, fire, or flood but from little (and sometimes big, or bigger when piled up) griefs suffered in human relationships. Failed friendships, perceived rejections and abandonments, mis-processed exchanges, and pain borne alone — this sort of thing. I’m grateful to have been shielded from the dangers and disasters many throughout our common human existence have faced and still do. At the same time, I think we are blessed when we recognize that all suffering “counts” as suffering: and that, incredibly, any suffering can be used by God to good purposes for us. He can redeem anything, and his intentions toward us are always good.

Sometimes it can be very difficult to see and feel God’s love for us in the pain of a moment or a season of particular darkness. And yet nothing is more real or true than his love. Above the clouds, the rain, and sometimes even the hurricanes that render the landscape of our lives temporarily unrecognizable, God’s love burns like a sun that’s always been there and always will be, sustaining us in life and being. Despite changes in the weather, despite appearances, his character and grace toward us never change.

When we’re suffering, it can be easy to lose our grasp on the truth of God’s love and mistake our emotional experiences for ultimate reality. But believing this falsehood can lead to even greater suffering, for which reason it’s important to practice stabilizing ourselves in God’s love — through prayer, through the slow and deliberative reading of Scripture, and, as I have found to be most transformative, through loving God in the midst of trials by loving him in others and taking part in the sacramental worship of the Church.

In offering ourselves, sorrows and all, to God through Christ, we truly begin to take hold of “the life that really is life” and receive ever more of the one thing that can really make us happy.

Kristen Gunn is a lay leader and has an M.T.S. from Nashotah House Theological Seminary. In her free time she enjoys learning Latin and kayaking as much as possible.

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Today we pray for:

Iglesia Anglicana de Chile
Grace Episcopal Church, Ocala, Florida


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