High River United Church of High River, Alberta

From Despair to Comfort to Wonder - May 25

Grace & Peace to  you! 

Susan’s Reflections on Psalms 23- 24-25

What a weekend of psalms we’ve had, and what a roller coaster of emotions. From the distress of “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” in Psalm 22, to the comforting words of “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need” in Psalm 23, to the joyful words of praise and wonder, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” in Psalm 24. Today we land on Psalm 25, a psalm of devotion, expressing a desire to deepen one’s relationship with God, “Make me to know your ways, o Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth…for you are the God of my salvation.”

Field Pathway Photo by Susan Lukey



Phrases and verses in each of these psalms evoke memories and reflection for me. Tucked in by Psalm 23 in my Bible, I have a copy of Psalm 23 with notes from my Grade 3 teacher, Miss Warkentin. Miss Warkentin had worked as a missionary before settling back in Acme to teach school. She often told us stories of the places she worked as a missionary, having us form our chairs into an airplane, on which we flew off to one of those places. She was one of my inspirations to become an ordained minister. Upon my ordination, she gave me a Bible, with her notes written by some of her favourite passages. Her note at the end of Psalm 23 says, “I learned this psalm by memory, but experienced it in life. It is a psalm that I sang for years. My voice is not good now, but my heart still sings.”


That is the gift of the psalms. They provide words and phrases that connect with all the various moments, experiences and emotions of our lives. A paper I was reading about the psalms this weekend shared the idea that the order of the psalms is no accident. Just like a hymn book is arranged by seasons or themes, so the book of psalms was arranged to take us on a particular journey. I’ve been paying attention to that. Psalm 1 begins with a declaration that blessing comes from following the way (or law) of God. Then we moved into psalm after psalm about “the wicked”, those who are twisted up and knotted up in ways that do not serve God. In Psalm 19, we had a little reprieve in a declaration of God’s glory. Then we arrive at this sequence of psalms that take us from the depths of despair to the rest by streams of living water in the care of the shepherd to once again singing God’s glory.


It echoes so much what life is like, especially during this time of COVID-19. One moment we can be feeling despair about what has happened and what the future will hold, and the next we can find comfort in conversation with a friend and experience gratitude for all we have in life. We often witness this roller-coaster of emotions in pre-schoolers, from tears of frustration one moment to rolling on the floor laughter the next, from “I’ll hate you forever” to a big loving hug the next.


That’s what I love about the psalms. Like my Grade 3 teacher, I can so often say, “I have experienced this psalm in life.” So I’m curious to keep watching the journey through the psalms. Why is each placed where it is in the book? Why are there psalms that are almost identical in wording? What is the message shared with us through the organization of this book? How is God speaking to me through each one?


Gracious God, make me to know your ways, and teach me your paths through the gift of the psalms. Amen.


With love and blessings,

Rev. Susan & Rev. David


High River United Church – a community of help, home & hope

“Just to be is a blessing; just to live is holy.” A. Heschel





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