I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Happy are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods. You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted. Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, "Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to your will, O my God; your law is within my heart." I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. Do not, O Lord, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.
There seem to be two general moods that prevail in the month of January. The first is the idea of "January zeal" - that burst of energy one gets to improve oneself - with resolutions firmly in hand one decides that this will be the year that the weight is lost, the debt paid off, the novel written, and so on and so forth. The second is the idea of the "January blues" - now that the holidays have passed, the decorations are put away for another year, the schedules have returned to normal - one can begin to feel a letdown, a loss, and the darkness of winter can overwhelm without the twinkly lights to hold it at bay.
This year, I am experiencing a strange confluence of the two types of Januarys. On the one hand, I feel energized to meet some goals I have set for myself - and I am slowly and steadily working on them every day and every week. This keeps me focused and gives me a bit of structure to what can be aimless days. On the other hand, I am struggling hard with the January blues. I am ready to settle down, have a home of our own again, and, most importantly, serve in a church again. This reality is so close and yet so far away and the waiting feels interminable and like it will last for an eternity of Januarys.
So this psalm resonated with me this week. "I waited patiently for the Lord..." I'm not sure how patient I am being but I sure am waiting. "...he inclined to me and heard my cry." Yay God will listen! He pulls me out of the pit...sets my feet secure upon a rock. And then, the psalm turns to praise. "He puts a new song in my mouth..." "Happy are those who make the Lord their trust..." Were I to proclaim your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us, they could not be counted.
No matter how we are feeling this January - full of zeal, or full of the blues, or some strange combination of both, or, neither - there is one thing this psalm reminds us to do. In all things, praise the Lord. May we keep words of praise on our lips in the best of times, and in the worst of times. And if we don't have our own words to speak, well, that's what the psalms are for.
God of all kinds of Januarys, helps us to feel your presence with us, no matter what we are going through. May we see your hand in all the challenges we face, and may we rise up to become the people you have called us to be. In the name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.