Tim’s Daily Bread Devotional 1.13.22

By January 13, 2022Daily Bread

Good morning!

I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 4

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.

Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
You gave me room when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?
How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.

When you are disturbed,[a] do not sin;
ponder it on your beds, and be silent.Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”
You have put gladness in my heart
more than when their grain and wine abound.

I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today

The ancient psalmist advised, “When you are disturbed (this can be translated as angry), do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent.”

“Pondering on our beds” may be difficult for most of us. A 2014 study of sample participants age 18 to 77 published by The Wired Word in the article, “Most people don’t enjoy sitting quietly with their thoughts, study shows,” suggested that people don’t really like simply “pondering.”  Here’s a quick summary of this study’s findings:

In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending six to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more.”

When told to entertain themselves just with their thoughts, imagining doing what they consider a pleasant activity their average enjoyment rating was about in the middle of a 9-point scale. This was true regardless of age.

But here’s the shocking — literally shocking — part. One phase of the study offered participants the option of administering a mild (but reportedly unpleasant) electrical shock to themselves by pressing a button. Placed in a room, alone with their thoughts and no other distractions for just 15 minutes, 67 percent of males and 25 percent of females gave themselves at least one electric shock.

“What is striking,” the researchers write, “is that simply being alone with their own thoughts for 15 minutes was apparently so aversive that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock that they had earlier said they would pay to avoid.”

In another phase of the study, 61 participants were invited to spend this same 6-15 minutes of alone-with-their-thoughts time at home. About a third of the participants admitted that they “cheated” by engaging in some activity, such as listening to music, using a cell phone or leaving their chair — and none of them changed their enjoyment rating at home from their rating at the lab.

Are these findings likely explainable due to the pace of modern society or easy access to electronic devices? These researchers didn’t think so. Instead, they suggested that electronic devices are simply a modern response to the common human desire to never be without something to do.

What should we make of this? The article asks whether the result of this study is more of an indictment of our society, our sinful nature, or our propensity to avoid hard work (which thinking is). Or are we as human beings just hardwired to prefer an external reality over an internal reality — with minds designed to engage with the world?  [The Wired Word for the Week of July 20, 2014. thewiredword.com.]

Clearly, being alone with nothing to do but think (to “ponder on our beds”) is difficult for most people. So, what are we to do with this advice from the psalmist?

Perhaps we are to think of it is as advice for what to do and what not do when we are upset or angry:

Think things through.

Think about how you are feeling and why.

Think about the consequences of any action.

Think about how God is present and at work in your life.

Don’t speak or act before you have really thought it through.

It’s ancient wisdom and very good advice.

Hymn Suggestion

“Be Still, My Soul”

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in every change God faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future, as in ages past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
the Christ who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these reflections on a portion of scripture.  I hope you will carry these with you throughout your day and night.

Grace and Peace,

Dr. Tim Bruster
Senior Pastor


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