I read a verse a few weeks ago that has stuck with me. Psalm 138:3 says, “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.”
I don’t think I’ve ever really noticed that little phrase “strength of soul” before, but God’s timing is good because 2020 is putting our strength of soul to the test.
Americans need strength of soul to love our neighbors as ourselves in the face of disagreements on every front.
White people need strength of soul to dismantle centuries of racism one relationship at a time, one conversation at a time, one action at a time, even after the protests die down and the fires have burned out.
Black people need strength of soul to endure day after day when their lives can be at risk just because they aren’t white.
(To be clear: it is horrifying that George Floyd’s life could be snuffed out because one police officer decided to kill him while others watched. Black lives are valuable because they are made in the image of God, and it is despicable to treat them unjustly because their skin is dark.)
Pastors need strength of soul to shepherd their congregations through a pandemic and all the complicated needs and emotions and logistics it brings.
Police officers need strength of soul to protect and serve with courage and wisdom when events escalate rapidly.
Politicians need strength of soul to govern wisely even as they know half the people they lead will completely disagree with them.
Anxious people need strength of soul to get through the panic attacks that bring them bolt upright in the middle of the night.
Kids need strength of soul when so much of what they know is ripped away and important life milestones go by the wayside.
Healthcare workers need strength of soul to care for patients who may very well infect them with a life-threatening disease.
Business owners need strength of soul to maintain their livelihoods – and those of their employees – when government policies and out-of-control looters destroy in an instant what they have worked a lifetime to build.
Parents need strength of soul to explain so many different issues to our kids in an honest way that lets them know they are safe and loved.
School officials need strength of soul to manage the education of all those entrusted to their responsibility.
Family members need strength of soul when their loved ones are slipping away in a lonely hospital bed and all they can do is say goodbye through a cold screen.
Those loved ones need strength of soul as the end of their life approaches and they can’t even hug anyone before they leave this realm for the next.
We all need strength of soul these days because we are weary, confused, hurt, uncertain, angry and overwhelmed.
We aren’t the only ones, though.
Jesus needed strength of soul when he faced a death he knew was coming at the hands of a violent, protesting mob. He needed it so much he sweat blood as he stayed awake all night begging for help from his Father.
And so, here is our hope:
When we think we can’t go another minute, when we are completely wrung out, when it seems we are broken beyond repair by sin and death and trouble and heartache, Jesus understands. He knows what we are asking because he did the same thing.
And because he loves us, this king, this writer of history, this one who promises to make all things new – he will indeed increase our strength of soul.