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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 107

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
   for his steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
   those he redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
   from the east and from the west,
   from the north and from the south.

Some wandered in desert wastes,
   finding no way to an inhabited town;
hungry and thirsty,
   their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
   and he delivered them from their distress;
he led them by a straight way,
   until they reached an inhabited town.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
   for his wonderful works to humankind.
For he satisfies the thirsty,
   and the hungry he fills with good things.

Some sat in darkness and in gloom,
   prisoners in misery and in irons,
for they had rebelled against the words of God,
   and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
Their hearts were bowed down with hard labor;
   they fell down, with no one to help.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
   and he saved them from their distress;
he brought them out of darkness and gloom,
   and broke their bonds asunder.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
   for his wonderful works to humankind.
For he shatters the doors of bronze,
   and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Some were sick through their sinful ways,
   and because of their iniquities endured affliction;
they loathed any kind of food,
   and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
   and he saved them from their distress;
he sent out his word and healed them,
   and delivered them from destruction.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
   for his wonderful works to humankind.
And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
   and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.

Some went down to the sea in ships,
   doing business on the mighty waters;
they saw the deeds of the Lord,
   his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
   which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths;
   their courage melted away in their calamity;
they reeled and staggered like drunkards,
   and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
   and he brought them out from their distress;
he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad because they had quiet,
   and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
   for his wonderful works to humankind.
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
   and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

He turns rivers into a desert,
   springs of water into thirsty ground,
a fruitful land into a salty waste,
   because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.
He turns a desert into pools of water,
   a parched land into springs of water.
And there he lets the hungry live,
   and they establish a town to live in;
they sow fields, and plant vineyards,
   and get a fruitful yield.
By his blessing they multiply greatly,
   and he does not let their cattle decrease.

When they are diminished and brought low
   through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,
he pours contempt on princes
   and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
but he raises up the needy out of distress,
   and makes their families like flocks.
                                               
The upright see it and are glad;
   and all wickedness stops its mouth.
Let those who are wise give heed to these things,
   and consider the steadfast love of the Lord. (NRSV)

Reflection
It’s easy for me to say thank you for my blessings and the things I’m grateful for—for deliverance from distress, for healing, for the love of my friends and family. It’s so much harder to say thank you for the challenges, the tough lessons learned, the loss of something I thought I wanted until God showed me it wasn’t meant for me. It’s much easier to say thank you for deliverance from the storm than to say thank you for the opportunity to learn how to navigate through the rain and the big waves.

But who would I be without those opportunities to learn and to grow? Growth doesn’t happen when things are easy. Growth happens when I’m pushed out of my comfort zone. And while I may not love it at the time, it’s so valuable.

As I reflect on what I’m thankful for this year, I’m realizing that being thankful for something isn’t the same as thinking it’s good. I can think something was hard and painful and still be thankful for the experience because it made me smarter or stronger, because it taught me a lesson and built my character, because it gave me perspective, helped me grow, strengthened my faith, or deepened a relationship.

Prayer
On this day when I reflect on my blessings—on all of the things, people, and experiences I’m thankful for, I also give thanks to you, my God, for the ways you have challenged me. Thank you for loving me exactly as I am and for loving me enough to challenge me to keep growing. Amen.

Written by Nicole Spirgen, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church


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