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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, November 20, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
   who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works vindication
   and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
   his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
   slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
   nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
   nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
   so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
   so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children,
   so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made;
   he remembers that we are dust.

As for mortals, their days are like grass;
   they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
   and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
   on those who fear him,
   and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
   and remember to do his commandments.

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
   and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
   you mighty ones who do his bidding,
   obedient to his spoken word.
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
   his ministers that do his will.
Bless the Lord, all his works,
   in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul. (NRSV)

This psalm beautifully outlines the myriad of ways God loves us. It is a long and inclusive list with a particular focus on God’s forgiveness: who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from the pit; he does not treat us as our sins deserve; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Forgiveness is a central tenet of Christianity and exists in three relationships. The first two are ones we talk about often: our relationship with God and our relationship with each other. The third is one we talk about much less: our relationship with ourselves. Forgiving ourselves can be extraordinarily difficult. Feelings of guilt, shame, and regret are powerful and tend to stay with us for a long time.

At a point in my life when I was struggling greatly with guilt and shame, a brief conversation taught me how to forgive myself.

Friend: Did you pray and ask for forgiveness?

Me: Yes, many times.

Friend: Do you believe that if you ask for forgiveness, God will forgive you?

Me: Yes, of course!

Friend: Then if God can forgive you, who are you to not forgive yourself?

If God can forgive me, who am I to not forgive myself? That question has stuck with me through the years and reminds me that if my Creator and Savior can forgive me and continue to love me, I can and need to find a way to do that for myself.

What might you need to forgive yourself for?

Compassionate and loving God, help me to let go of my guilt, shame, and regret and to remember that I am made new by your love and forgiveness. Amen.

Written by Nicole Spirgen, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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