A hungry baby is a terrible thing.
First comes whimpering. Then crying. Then a screaming that consumes the child’s whole body. Long before danger of starvation, the child makes sure that there is no one within earshot that has any question about a need for food. That same child, a bottle or a breast later, is content. No tears, no cries, no struggles, no fears.
That’s the image a writer uses to describe a soul in Psalm 131. Instead of worrying, of crying out about “things too great and marvelous for me”, the writer has
calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
We can go two directions at this point. We could move quickly to talk about those infants who have no food. Those infants who, no matter how loud the crying, will never be satisfied. Adrift in crowds in Somalia, they will die before they have the food they need.
Or we can look at the condition of our souls.
It is easy for me to allow my soul to be consumed with things I cannot understand, that I cannot resolve. International and internal politics. How everything will be tied together, or will fall apart. Being in charge. Things that they have no direct connect to that I watch friends lose sleep over.
Instead, the psalmist suggests,
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
Intriguingly, when my soul is content at the side of a loving God, frenetic activity is replaced with thoughtful observation. I quit trying to fix. I quit being God. I can see around me. I notice suffering. And it is possible to climb from the lap and offer hope. Especially to the child crying from physical starvation.