1 Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. 2 Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. 10 The fear (or “reverence” for) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.
Greetings all my friends!
During all the sufferings and trials of this pandemic, I would like to share a little story with you.
Imagine for a moment that your family was forcibly removed from your home by a foreign power when you were but a child. Imagine being moved to the nation of that same foreign power to serve in positions of servitude for those who conquered your land. Imagine seeing violence inflicted upon those who might stand against the foreign power and being “kept in your place” within this new and foreign country that you are living in. You no longer have any kind of national pride in your heritage, you no longer can freely choose your vocation, where you live, or truly most of the decisions which affect your lives. Yet, there are some within your midst who continue to talk about how you are part of the “chosen people.”
This is the situation most scholars believe was in place when the 5th book of psalms (psalms 107-150) was authored. This section of the psalter reflects the experiences of the Jewish people in their very long exile in Babylon and the hope instilled in God’s people at the possible return to their homeland.
Now, imagine that one day you are walking from the cramped housing quarters that you have been forced to live in out to the fields to begin the harvest. You are walking through a wooded area. The sky is not yet bright, the sounds of the animals in the dark woods seems somehow “soothing” to you. You walk around a bend in the road that you have walked around hundreds of times to get to your fields, only this time, the dawn of the morning sun is appearing on the horizon. The sky turns colors as the sun begins to rise on a new day. You stop in the middle of the road and witness the beauty and glory of God’s creation. In this moment, you share the heart of the psalter: “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart!”
During this pandemic, I have found a personal renewed interest in the words and the wisdom shared in the book of psalms. Within this particular psalm (psalm 111) the psalter suggests in verse 10 that the faithful person who allows themselves to be open to something greater than their current situation in life, something better than the condition they currently find themselves in can “see”, “experience”, “know”, that God is found within the many very ordinary moments and experiences of life. Like witnessing a beautiful sunrise, being part of a “pay it forward” moment or seeing an act of kindness amid chaos.
When our eyes are overly focused on the problems of our living. When our hearts are hardened by the varied voices of this world seeking to “divide and conquer”, the psalmist would argue that these conditions have been given power to make the world a much “smaller” place than it is.
Yet, when we allow our minds to be open to God’s continued presence in the world and allow our lives to be shaped by taking God’s love into our hearts, God’s majesty and glory can be revealed in the darkest moments of life and our natural state becomes one of awe and splendor at the glory of God.
As Thomas Parker observes. Faith in Christ means letting our lives be shaped by taking God’s love into our heart. We receive this love by becoming more loving, just as we receive greater grace by becoming more gracious.
So, on this day I declare; “Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart in the assembly of the upright, in the community of faith. Great are Your works, O Lord, pondered by all who delight in them!”
Until next time,
Keep trusting God, washing your hands, and give thanks to the Lord for the bounty of God’s love.