8. Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard;
9. He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.
10. For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.
11. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.
12. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.
13. I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you—
14. Vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble.
15. I will sacrifice fat animals to you and an offering of rams; I will offer bulls and goats.
Reflection by Darlene Wagner
This psalm makes it clear that a life of faith is not easy. First of all, faith is about daily, lived-out commitment, not theological belief. Second, a life of devotion to Divine Spirit is filled with times of testing. Personal devotion is often accompanied by cleansing through fire and water. A believer will endure at least two kinds of cleansing. Cleansing hardship may occur as a direct consequence of disobedience. Yet, as the book of Job shows, not all suffering is punishment for sin. Sometimes, the harshest of trials befall the most righteous people for no apparent reason. Such hurts can best be attributed to the chaos of Nature. I believe that the current pandemic falls into this latter category of trials. It is not on account of our personal sins that we endure social distancing, unemployment, sickness, and even hunger. The innocent and marginalized are suffering the most. Rather, our hardships are multiplied by the fact that we live in a chaotic world with a flawed world-system. We can pray to be brought back to a place of abundance. Yet, prayer is not enough when we are obliged to be more generous towards those who are marginalized.
Our nearest, dear Eternal Father, Light of Heaven!
If poverty and sickness should continue to grow,
We would have no means left to share with others.