Yesterday, someone spoke angry, hurtful words to me as i was in the process of helping that person, and my initial reaction was to lash out in anger. i remembered something i had read recently that spoke to the need for restraint when one is inclined to speak out in anger, and i began to examine my reaction to what had been said to me. i thought about the motive of the person who had wounded me and about what their need was. i thought about how my happiness was not dependent on the way another treated me. i thought about what i could do to help this person overcome the bitterness that they were expressing. Suddenly my own anger disappeared and i was focused on being present for that person.
As my mind returned to the person who had hurt me, and i spoke with gentleness, ignoring their hurtful words, the situation was diffused. We continued through the rest of our time together speaking as friends, our joy at being together replacing what might have been an angry confrontation.
This morning, as i reflected on my mood of the past couple of days and the working of God in my heart in the situation i've just described, i heard God speaking to me through the words of the hymn which begins with the words, "How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent word." This is the part of the hymn that came to my mind first, and was the focus of my morning meditation:
Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid.
God does give us aid, through God's constant presence in and around us, if we only recognize that God is there, waiting for us. God gives us aid through the words of ancient philosophers speaking words of wisdom to us across the ages and from outside our own traditions. God gives us aid through the words of poets who are able to express our deepest needs in words that inspire and lead us to God's truth. The "excellent word" is that voice of God that we find in so many places outside us and inside our hearts if we listen for it.
My prayer this morning is that we will all be vigilant as God seeks us and speaks to us in many ways, giving us the comfort and peace that God has for us.