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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, April 29, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 118:1–2, 14–24

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
   his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say,
   “His steadfast love endures forever.”

The Lord is my strength and my might;
   he has become my salvation.
There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
   the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
   the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”
I shall not die, but I shall live,
   and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has punished me severely,
   but he did not give me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
   that I may enter through them
   and give thanks to the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord;
   the righteous shall enter through it.

I thank you that you have answered me
   and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
   has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
   it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
   let us rejoice and be glad in it. (NRSV)

Reflection
“Give thanks to the Lord.” With these words of thanksgiving, the psalm begins. Several verses later, this particular psalm portion ends, again with words of thanks and praise: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could begin our days with our first thought being thanksgiving to God? And end each day with thanksgiving again—the last thought before we drift off to sleep? “Yes, this has been the day the Lord has made, and I am thankful for it."

I confess that I fail miserably at this. I want to be able to open my eyes in the morning and immediately give thanks to God. And I want to end each day with thoughts of gratitude. Mystics, contemplatives, spiritual advisors all advise that we learn these habits.

I've met people who strike me as people who probably do this. I once arrived at the home of a woman whose husband had died tragically that same afternoon in a terrible accident. Her first words to me were “We've been so blessed.” Another woman I visited at Rush Hospital, a double amputee, told me she was thankful for being able to open her eyes each morning. My husband expresses gratitude all the time. I don't think these people are delusional or in denial about the problems they face, but they have been given the gift of grateful hearts, and then they go the extra mile—they express that gratitude. These people impress me. And I'm thankful for them.

Prayer
Gracious God, your steadfast love is ever present. You are my strength and salvation, and still I forget to give you praise and to show my gratitude. Let me wake each morning and end each evening proclaiming that you are the one who has given me each day, thankful for whatever the days bring. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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