Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Today’s first reading is almost humorous... if it weren’t for the fact that it was so disastrous.
Israel -- God’s people -- went into battle against the Philistines. These are the same notorious Philistines from whom eventually would come Goliath, the giant that David defeated. But not today. Today Israel loses the battle.
So they rally. They go get their secret weapon, the Ark of the Covenant. They plan to bring the very presence of God Himself into battle with them. It’s like that part of an action movie when the music gets all intense as the heroes equip themselves for the last climactic scene where they fight the villain. It’s obvious the heroes have a tough fight ahead of them, but you know they usually win.
Not this time.
Israel runs into battle with confidence, fighting with the Ark of the Covenant among them. But not only do the Philistines defeat them and kill 30,000 Israelites, they also capture the Ark of the Covenant.
How do you lose God?
As I prayed through this reading, what really struck a chord with me was they way the Israelites responded to their first loss: “Why has the LORD permitted us to be defeated today by the Philistines?” I really felt sorry for the Israelites when I read that. Haven’t you ever wondered that yourself sometimes? You approach a tough situation with lots of prayer, you put your trust in God... and you lose.
I’ve totally had days like that. Why has the Lord permitted me to fail at this project I’ve been working on? Why did God let this relationship go so wrong? Why didn’t He help me stay away from this sin I’ve committed again?
Why does the Lord let me lose?
We don’t find the solution in the first reading today. And honestly, there’s no easy or comfortable answer to why the Lord allows us to be “defeated” sometimes. These defeats can be real hardships for us and even cause us to question our faith.
But I like to keep my eyes on Jesus. Look to the cross. God the Father permitted His only beloved Son to “lose.” And from that “defeat” came the greatest gift humankind has ever known. For me, Jesus’ death and resurrection shines a light on my defeats. I may not understand why the Lord allows me to lose sometimes, but when I look at Jesus, I’m reminded that with the Lord nothing is ever really lost.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
Where in your life do you feel defeated right now?
Where do you find the Lord in the midst of defeat?
Where in your life has the Lord brought victory out of defeat, as He did on the cross?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"My help comes from the Lord."
"God, I look to you."
"I keep my eyes fixed upon the cross."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Wherever in life you are feeling defeated right now, don't give up and keep your eyes on the cross.
Smartphone Lock Screen
The following image is here for you to save and use as a background or lock screen on your smartphone or device to help you carry today's Lectio Divina with you the rest of the day.
Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff.