WEEK FIVE: RELIANCE
Psalm 73: 23-26
…nevertheless I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me with honor.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
This fifth week of Lent will center around the theme of Reliance. Today we will begin with its root, rely. To rely on God means that we trust, depend on, be certain of, or have faith in God. Jesus has shown us vividly just how much we can rely on God. Jesus’ life serves as an example of his own reliance on God; he trusted in God, no matter where he was led. His complete surrender to God in his death (“into your hands I commend my spirit”- Luke 23:46) was redeemed in his glorious resurrection; thus we can rely on God to make good come from all we endure. And Jesus gave us his Spirit- God as our guide and companion- on whom we can rely in all of our daily living.
But oh, we are so forgetful. We worry and fret, until we remember God’s promises. We rely on ourselves, until we fail and falter again. We become anxious about tomorrow, until we recall God’s restorative and redeeming love for all of our yesterdays. We focus on our worldly concerns, until we are prompted by the Spirit to change our perspective and seek heavenly kingdom living.
In today’s passage, the psalmist completely trusts in God as his constant companion, his hand-holding guide, his counselor, his one-and-only desire, and the strength of his heart. His experiences of God, along with our own, assure us that God IS the One on whom we can rely. But the psalmist also includes God as his “portion forever.” God as our “portion” appears in other passages, too. (For example, Lamentations 3:24 reads, “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”) How does the understanding of God as our portion also encourage us to rely on God?
In this instance, the word portion means an allotment or share, such as a portion of an inheritance, land or possessions. We can rely on God to provide our portion, which is always sufficient and enough for the day. But with God AS our portion, we gain so much more! James H. Pence, on “The Christian Pulse” website, writes of God as our portion:
As the psalmist “…looks around and sees how unfair this world seems to be, (he) remembers that he is only a pilgrim on earth. He has an inheritance—a portion—that is greater than any wealth the wicked possess. His portion is God Himself (emphasis mine)… Four times in the Psalms and once in Lamentations, the scripture writers describe God as their portion. Each time it is a reminder that whatever happens in this world, we have a possession that transcends all trial, tragedy, and difficulty.”*
Can we even begin to comprehend this? We have a portion that is far greater than any other worldly portion. We have a share of God! Infinite, incredible, amazing God. One small portion of God is too huge for our comprehension. This IS the God in whom we can put our trust!
One final note. In the verses just preceding these beautiful words, the psalmist writes of his embittered soul, his stupidity and ignorance, and his shameful behavior toward God. “Nevertheless” then becomes such a grace-filled word for us! We can rely on God for everything, no matter how imperfect and obtuse we are. What a gift we have been given.
God, our constant companion, hand-holding guide, counselor, one-and-only desire, strength of our hearts, and our portion,
Thank you for clearly showing us that you are the One on whom we can rely! No one else compares with you and your love for us. Forgive us for not remembering. Forgive us when our trust wavers. Remove our ego-driven self-reliance and strengthen our reliance on you. Let your Spirit move us to fully trust and rely on you… and you alone. Amen.
*James H. Pence, thechristianpulse.com/2011/03/23/the-lord-is-my-portion—i-shall-not-want/