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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Today’s Scripture ReadingPsalm 146

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
   I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

Do not put your trust in princes,
   in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
   on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
   whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
   the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
   who executes justice for the oppressed;
   who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
   the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
   the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
   he upholds the orphan and the widow,
   but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,
   your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord! (NRSV)

The exuberance of the psalmist makes me wonder if I take the magnificence of my God for granted. The psalmist exclaims that our God is “forever” faithful and executes justice for all those who are oppressed. God is a helpful presence regardless of the nature of our need or hardship.

Maybe you’ve never really been hungry or starving, but most of us know what it is like to have psychological and spiritual hunger that prevents us from thriving. Sooner or later we will all know what it is like to lose a loved one. We all have blind spots in our lives where we need help seeing. Who of us has not been burdened and “bowed down” by life or been imprisoned and “held captive” by physical, psychological or spiritual shackles? We have all felt like “strangers” in big or small ways and have needed help, support, and companionship.

How amazing that God’s very nature means we never have to feel alone in time of need. God is there and has us covered!

And it’s not all about us, is it? We are extensions of God’s love and presence. Think of all those who are hungry; imprisoned physically, psychologically, or spiritually; blind and need help seeing; in need of someone to provide justice for them; are burdened and weighed down by their life; are being made to feel like strangers because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, class, religious beliefs, and more. So rejoice that God will be ever present for you, and be aware of how you might be God’s intended instrument for others to experience God’s amazing love and presence in their lives!

Dear God, thank you for your steadfast faithfulness, love, and presence in our lives. Keep us alert to how our actions and choices can help others experience your presence and love in their lives. Amen.

Written by Thomas Schemper, Director of the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being

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