Kayla and Psalm 37

Daily Office Reading for the day: Psalm 37 verses 1-18

When I heard the news that Kayla Mueller had been killed, I gave myself permission to hate and called my anger, "righteous." I was convinced that the work of pure evil deserved all of my anger.

Any of the hundreds of students I've worked with over the years could have been her. We take students out of their comfort zone and give them the chance to be with people desperate for love and care -- hurricane victims, marginalized native people, those in desperate poverty. We pray for God's spirit to move in these students' lives that they will respond to people and their needs. And God delivers again and again, transforming us and planting in our hearts a call to "do good."

Many of these students have committed their lives to this work. Social workers, public health nurses, aid workers, doctors for Doctors without Borders -- they are responding to the Psalmist: "Trust God and do good."

I was convinced that anything or anyone that stood in the way of this kind of goodness is evil.

And it is. But the scripture challenged:

Don’t get upset over evildoers; don’t be jealous of those who do wrong.
Trust the Lord and do good;  
Enjoy the Lord, and God will give what your heart asks.
Commit your way to the Lord! Trust God!

Holding on to anger and hatred only lead to more evil says the Psalm writer. I am struggling to accept this. But, I am proud enough to heed the warning that my work could be marked by anything other than goodness: "The Lord is intimately acquainted with the lives of the blameless; their heritage will last forever."

Let go of anger and leave rage behind!    Don’t get upset—it will only lead to evil.
The Lord is intimately acquainted with the lives of the blameless; their heritage will last forever.

As I wrestled, Kayla's letter to her family was released. Not a whiff of hatred. No righteous anger. Instead, complete trust in God: "I have come to see there is good in every situation . . . I have surrendered myself to our creator."

No one wants to be remembered for their anger and rage. Nor do we want the effects of anger dominating our lives. Anger is controlling. When anger reigns our lives, God does not. To truly trust God is to let go of the anger. 

Kayla's beautiful legacy is one of trusting God and doing good. A Lenten practice for us all.

From Kayla's Letter:
If you could say I have "suffered" at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through; I will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve forgiveness.
I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is God. I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c there was literally no one else... + by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall.

I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that, even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful. I have come to see there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it. I pray each day that if nothing else, you have felt a certain closeness + surrender to God as well + have formed a bond of love + support amongst one another... I miss you all as if it has been a decade of forced separation.


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