When the going gets tough

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths” (Prov 3:5-6).

 by Marjorie George

The billboard that I currently most love to hate is on a strip of IH10 between Loop 410 and downtown in San Antonio. It’s a heavily traveled piece of highway, so this billboard 30 feet up in the sky gets lots of play. Pity.

The sign has on it two pictures – an apple and an orange. The wording reads:

“You are an apple
and you married an orange. 

Call me.”

And then the name and phone number of a divorce attorney.

I want to stop my car, climb up there, scribble out the attorney’s name, and write
“Make fruit salad.”

It worries me that the unwritten message on this sign echoes the creeping self-centeredness of our society, the insidious egotism that says I need to take care of numero uno because no one else is going to.

Yet I wonder if the “me first” attitude is driven by selfishness or by fear. My suspicion is that most of us live in fear. Afraid that another will get the position we feel we deserve; afraid that we won’t be recognized for our efforts; afraid that we will indeed fail; afraid that there really won’t be enough (money, recognition, power, good health, support, Medicare) to go around, and I need to be sure I get mine.

It feels like the times are not in our hands. No wonder we have a need to take care of ourselves. We seem to be at the mercy of things beyond our control. And some days we seem to be losing the battle.

The psalmists felt it, too. We relate to it in Psalm 31: 

“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble;
My eye is consumed with sorrow” (vs 9)

“My life is wasted with grief, and my years with sighing” (vs 10)

“I am as useless as a broken pot” (vs 12)

The fact is, brothers and sisters, we are not in control. And clutching it all to ourselves is simply an illusion of security. Worse news, the antidote to this mounting anxiety is wild abandon into the arms of God. Climb to the highest peak, unhook the harness, and throw yourself over the cliff (speaking metaphorically; don’t try this at home).

And when we pick ourselves up and see that we are still alive, we will understand the song of the psalmist:

“From heaven the LORD looks down   
and sees all mankind;

from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—

he who forms the hearts of all,   
who considers everything they do.

 No king is saved by the size of his army;   
no warrior escapes by his great strength.

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;   
despite all its great strength it cannot save.

But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,   
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

to deliver them from death 
and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the LORD; 
he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice, 
for we trust in his holy name. (Ps 33:13-21)

7 thoughts on “When the going gets tough”

  1. Isn’t it amazing and bountiful that God speaks to each of us a little bit differently and we hear exactly what it is we need to hear at that time? Kind of like the day of Pentecost.
    I value your feedback and am delighted when you leave comments.
    And, Barbara Duffield is correct, all the articles are archived and still available. Look in the colum on the right. Under the Archives heading you will find March and April. that should lead you to the articles. Or look at the heading titled Categories and go down to the entry for “psalms.”
    – Marjorie George

  2. Thank you so much for all of your Lenten messages, they have ment so much to me at this point in my life. As our Rev. Hammond says each Sunday morning, all are strugling with something in their lives. Your messages are like you are sitting and talking to me, one on one.

  3. I, too, have been enjoying this Lenten journey in the Psalms. I wish I had thought to print them out from the start and make a little book of them. It would be good to be able to go to them again for renewed inspiration.

    1. Pat, the good news is that you can still see them all, and print them out if you like. Just go to the diocesan website at http://www.dwtx.org and select the link for ReflectionsOnline just below “For your Lenten Discipline.” They are all listed there along with replies if you want to see them.

  4. Dear Marjorie,
    I have so enjoyed this Lenten journey through the Psalms and I thank you for making them available. The one today struck a cord with me because I think it is right own. I do beleive that as long as we make it all about us, we will never venture into the abundance that our Father desires for us. How very sad to miss His best.
    Again, I thank you for these, I have been ministered to and also shared them with others. Continue on
    In His mercy,
    Helen Gilliam

  5. Even in our worship I feel we need to be reminded often that it’s not about me. As humans I feel one of our most common weaknesses is that we all too often focus on our personal needs and not the needs of others. Some churches I believe take advantage of this and preach to the needs of the individual. Perhaps that is one reason we see such a large discrepency in church sizes that we are often confused by.

  6. The beauty of the example of the apple and orange is that they work well together, but each stays what it is. That’s what a marriage should be like, in my opinion. Neither one changes the other – they just learn to work and live together. Thanks for the meditation, Marjorie. I liked it..

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