Emily Litella is a fictional character created and performed by comedian, Gilda Radner in a series of appearances on Saturday Night Live. Based on a person in her early life, Emily Litella was a popular character in Radner’s comedy repertoire.
Emily Litella is an elderly woman with a hearing problem. Attired in a frumpy dress, sweater, wearing low to the nose eyeglasses, Litella was introduced with professional dignity by the news anchors, who could sometimes be seen cringing slightly in anticipation of the rebuttal they knew would follow. These sketches were, in part, a parody of the Fairness Doctrine, which at the time required broadcasters in the United States to present opposing viewpoints on public issues.
Litella would peer through her reading glasses and, in the character’s high-pitched, warbly voice, would read a prepared statement in opposition to an editorial that the TV station had supposedly broadcast. Litella would become increasingly agitated as her statement progressed. Midway in her commentary, it became apparent to the anchor, and the audience, that Litella had misheard or misunderstood the subject of the editorial to which she was responding. A typical example:
What is all this fuss I hear about the Supreme Court decision on a “deaf” penalty? It’s terrible! Deaf people have enough problems as it is!
The news anchor would interrupt Litella to point out her error, along the lines, “That’s death penalty, Ms. Litella, not deaf … death.” Litella would wrinkle her nose, say something like, “Oh, that’s very different,” then meekly turn to the camera and say, smiling, “Never mind!”
I have used “never mind” as a backup to my repertoire when I completely misread a situation in my life. I have even said it to God when I totally didn’t get life as it was presented. When I thought God had left me to fend for myself, He came to my aid, already at work on the problem before I asked for a solution.
This Psalms reminds of a “never mind” moment in David’s life. It makes me smile to read it this morning knowing I have done the same thing…human panic first, then praise! This little panic is brought on by our inborn “flight or fight” makeup that helps us evaluate quickly the danger that appears suddenly. To linger in panic is unhealthy. God also created a place in our souls for Him. When panic brings us running to Him for help immediately, that is a very wise, healthy place to be.
“Oh, look! God’s right here helping! God’s on my side”…Never mind! God was there all the time. Thank you, God!!
Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs
Psalm 54, The Message
A David Psalm, When the Ziphites Reported to Saul, “David Is Hiding Out with Us”
54 1-2 God, for your sake, help me!
Use your influence to clear me.
Listen, God—I’m desperate.
Don’t be too busy to hear me.
3 Outlaws are out to get me,
hit men are trying to kill me.
Nothing will stop them;
God means nothing to them.
4-5 Oh, look! God’s right here helping!
God’s on my side,
Evil is looping back on my enemies.
Don’t let up! Finish them off!
6-7 I’m ready now to worship, so ready.
I thank you, God—you’re so good.
You got me out of every scrape,
and I saw my enemies get it.
TRUTH: We are human. We panic first then discover quickly that God was there all along. “I thank you, God—you’re so good. You got me out of every scrape…”
Proverb 19:7-8, The Message
When you’re down on your luck, even your family avoids you—
yes, even your best friends wish you’d get lost.
If they see you coming, they look the other way—
out of sight, out of mind.
8 Grow a wise heart—you’ll do yourself a favor;
keep a clear head—you’ll find a good life.
WISDOM: When danger appears suddenly, “keep a clear head—you’ll find a good life.” God is there helping us when we need it most. Count on it. Great is His faithfulness!
Thank you for your loving kindness and the calm you bring us in our panic. Thank you for Your Holy Presence that goes before us, stands with us and follows behind us with protection. Thank you for leading us and never leaving us when we are overwhelmed or the challenge is too great, at first. Thank you for defeating our real foe that feeds on our panic. Thank you for your gift of peace, no matter what is going on around us. Sweet peace, the gift of Your love. Continue to teach and transform me.
In Jesus Name, Amen