Thoughts from Quarantine (Psalm 37)

Greetings, fellow shut-ins and those who still roam free! In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, my work has mandated that everyone stay away from the office and work from home. And while my city hasn’t officially declared a quarantine, many businesses are shuttering their doors, and one person I’ve been around has announced they are sick this week. So until we find out if it was the flu, I’m pretty much self-quarantining.

I would say it’s a good thing I’m an introvert, but there’s nothing like knowing you can’t go out to make it the only thing you want to do!! (Thanks a lot, reverse psychology!)

Anyway, to try and make the most out of this unusual situation, I’ve decided to set myself a personal challenge — one that I’ve seen other bloggers do, but have been too busy or too cowardly to do myself.

I’m going to try and make myself write a post every day that I’m shut in.

Most days it will probably just be short thoughts or devotionals, but I think it’ll be a good exercise for me. It’s extra writing practice, and it’ll force me to be productive. And maybe, just maybe, someone somewhere will get some benefit from my ramblings.

(Or so I hope. It could be terrible. You be the judge.)

For today, though, I have a few musings on one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 37.

One of the main topics addressed in Psalm 37 is anxiety — always a pertinent subject, but especially so now. In fact, God was speaking to me through this psalm even before the virus outbreak, just a few weeks ago. I want to talk about the first seven verses:

“Do not be agitated by evildoers;
do not envy those who do wrong.
For they wither quickly like grass
and wilt like tender green plants.

Trust in the Lord and do what is good;
dwell in the land and live securely.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act,
making your righteousness shine like the dawn,
your justice like the noonday.

Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for him…”

 — Psalm 37:1-7a, CSB

The whole psalm is worth reading, but it was this first part in particular that hit home with me recently. It sets up a contrast between stressing out about problems (in its original context, problematic people specifically), on the one hand, and trusting God on the other. It reminds us that the problems are temporary, so we shouldn’t get too hung up on them.

But I like that it doesn’t just say “Trust God; this too shall pass.” It’s not just a platitude. These verses list about seven different things you should be doing while you’re waiting for your problems to pass.

Trust God. Do good things. Dwell and live securely. Take delight in the Lord. Commit your way to him. Be silent and wait expectantly.

Sounds like a pretty good action plan for life in quarantine, to me.

For those of us who can’t do much other than wait and trust, it’s nice to be reminded of ways we can make the time spent at home meaningful, rather than squandering it on worrying. This psalm is far from a call to just sit on your laurels and do nothing; there is a sense of action to things like taking delight in the Lord, doing good, and dwelling securely. There’s business to attend to while we wait. We need to seize the opportunity to dig deeper into God’s word, into spiritual disciplines, into prayer.

For those like me whose lives have been so crammed full of activity — even “spiritual” activity like ministry and volunteering — it’s easy to be so busy that we never stop and actually focus our hearts on God himself, and on delighting in him, and on simply being with him.

Even the last line I quoted — “Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for him” — isn’t to be taken as a command to just sit around or not to pray; it’s a summons to spend time in God’s presence and find rest, and to have an attitude of expectancy for what he’s going to do next. It’s part of what it means to delight in him — like Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus and soaking in his teaching (see Luke 10:38-42).

When I last read this psalm, the word “expectantly” seemed to leap off the page. That one word stuck in my mind. It was like the Lord was asking me, “What are your expectations? Do you expect great things of me? Or are your expectations too low?” Whether it’s because I was afraid of being disappointed, or because I thought I would screw things up, I realized that I really wasn’t expecting God to do great things in my life.

But this psalm is a reminder that when we actually trust God and worship him for who he is, we can and should expect him to do great things in our lives. Low expectations = low worship.

What things are you expecting from the Lord? Trust in him and he will act. Wait expectantly. Take delight in him. That’s the game plan for these next few weeks (and beyond).

See you down the path.

Categories: General, Old Testament

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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