Heavenly Father, on this blessed day, as we gather to reflect upon your Word, we open our hearts to receive your guidance and wisdom. We pray for your Spirit to illuminate our minds, helping us to understand your Word. Prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ. In his name, we pray. Amen.
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
The Great Tradition
In everything he taught the benefit of hope in God: the person hoping in God, he says, and fed by him will enjoy the goods supplied by him while those who find delightful constant converse with him will most of all attain them. (Theodoret of Cyr)
How do you show yourself subject to [God]? By doing what he commanded. You do not receive your reward yet, but that may be because you are not yet capable of it. He is already able to give it, but you are not able to receive it. Exert yourself in your tasks, labor in the vineyard, and when evening comes ask for your wages, for he who brought you into the vineyard is trustworthy. (Augustine)
Prayer of Confession
Gracious Lord, forgive us for the times we have allowed the success of those who follow wicked paths to disturb our peace. In moments of uncertainty, strengthen our trust in you. Help us to focus on the eternal perspective, knowing that your ways are higher than our ways. We confess our impatience and pray for a heart that waits on you with unwavering faith and delight. In Christ we pray. Amen.
Do you trust the Lord when times are tough, when you see those who do not appear to care about the things of God prospering? I believe our trust grows as our eternal perspective becomes clearer. How little would we worry about the things of the world, or value the things of the world, if we saw things more clearly from God’s perspective? If we valued what God values?
The Psalmist encourages us not to fret about those who do evil or be envious of those who do what is wrong. Instead, we should not wander off to the right or left, but continue down the right path, trusting God the whole way, obeying him as we travel.
Better yet, as we travel with God, let us love what he loves and desire what he desires. How do we discover what those things are? Theodoret tells us we do so by conversing with God continually. And as we speak with, and listen to our loving God, he will not only show us what delights him, but will give us those things as well. But we must be patient with God. He reveals and gives according to his schedule, not ours. We must trust that he always has our best interest at heart and knows what our best interest is. When we’re certain of those two truths, we can be at peace because we know we are being well loved and cared for.
As we navigate the challenges of life, let’s anchor our trust in the Lord, finding peace in the hope of his promises. This Advent season let’s prayerfully pursue a spirit of trust, delight in the Lord’s ways through continuous communion and conversation, and patiently trust in his timing. And let’s remember the words of Augustine who said, “Exert yourself in your tasks, labor in the vineyard, and when evening comes ask for your wages, for he who brought you into the vineyard is trustworthy.” And so, he is. Thanks be to God.
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Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: (Proverbs 23:19)
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.