Friday, April 24

Reader: “I love the Lord”

Response: “because he hears my voice.”

Scripture: Psalm 116:1-4; 12-19

I love the Lord because he hears my voice

    and my prayer for mercy. 

Because he bends down to listen,

    I will pray as long as I have breath! 

Death wrapped its ropes around me;

    the terrors of the grave overtook me.

    I saw only trouble and sorrow.

Then I called on the name of the Lord:

    “Please, Lord, save me!”

What can I offer the Lord

    for all he has done for me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation

    and praise the Lord’s name for saving me. 

I will keep my promises to the Lord

    in the presence of all his people.

The Lord cares deeply

    when his loved ones die.

O Lord, I am your servant;

    yes, I am your servant, born into your household;

    you have freed me from my chains.

I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving

    and call on the name of the Lord.

I will fulfill my vows to the Lord

    in the presence of all his people

in the house of the Lord

    in the heart of Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord!

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Some thoughts:
That these last two months dealing with the COVID-19 virus have been trying for everyone is probably an understatement. We have had to alter a great many plans and habits and expectations. There is no doubt people have been under a fair amount of stress, sometimes revealing things in our hearts that we didn’t realize were so present as we grab for that last package of TP! Into this context we read this wonderful psalm. I’m afraid our God is far more present than we realize. He hears your whispered prayer and he gives mercy. The phrase “as long as I have breath I will pray” says a great deal about the confidence and determination of the psalmist. Do we pray with that kind of fever or do we pray for a few minutes and if nothing happens go on to something else? How persistent are you in your life of prayer? Here the psalmist was overwhelmed with a desperate situation and he cried out to God. We are more likely to pray in a fearful situation, but what about praying when the situation isn’t so uncertain? The last portion of the psalm is one of gratitude to the Lord. It seems in the difficult situation the psalmist made some kind of promise to the Lord. How often have we done that? “Lord if you will . . . then I promise I will …” Again, underscored here is the wonderful truth that the Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die. Think about that. The words are “his loved ones.” We talk about our loved ones, our children, our parents, our family. Christianity uses familial language from beginning to end: Father, Son, brothers, sisters, children, sons, daughters, offspring, little ones, and family. Into this context we read that the Lord views us as his own “loved ones,” loving you and me as a perfect Father. This is overwhelming . . . and reason to calm down and trust. Your Father will meet all of your needs.

Music: “I Love the Lord”    Whitney Houston The text is based on this psalm.      From the “Preacher’s Wife” movie

A live performance by Whitney Houston 

Lord Jesus, that we are part of the Trinity family is beyond anything we can begin to comprehend. That you love us so is, honestly, hard for me to grasp. The depth of your love as expressed in Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension is something we’re still trying to comprehend. We read it in the Scripture and don’t doubt that it happened and was motivated by your love and desire that we should know and love you, but it’s that we feel so ordinary, sinful and puny people. How could you love us? You are the masterful, glorious God of all creation. Help us to know you better and be more able to live as your children and reflect well on our family name. Thank you for hearing our cries and caring deeply when your family members struggle. We love you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
―Daniel Sharp