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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, May 19, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

My song forever shall record
the tender mercies of the Lord;
your faithful love will I proclaim,
and every age shall know your name.

I sing of mercies that endure,
forever firm, forever sure,
a strong support that never dies,
established changeless in the skies.

“My Song Forever Shall Record” (vv. 1–2),
from The New Metrical Version of the Psalms
Hymn 67, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Is there a difference between “mercy” and “grace”? Both are freely given by God; we do not have to earn them. However, the words “tender mercies“ and “mercies that endure” bring to mind more strongly for me the idea of God’s grace, grace freely given by a loving God, not mercy conferred because of error or sin or relief from illness or sorrow. Abundant grace—if you pay attention.

A care receiver with whom I walked during a very bad time in her life experienced “the dark night of her soul.” She struggled to regain the closeness to God she had so long enjoyed. We prayed for relief, for answers to particular needs, but conditions remained bleak. Then, glimmers of God began to appear—small moments—but we clung to them and named them: examples of God’s grace. As weeks went by, there were more examples, even stronger ones. Months later we realized that God had not ticked off specific answers to those “particular” requests. Rather, we had calmed down, waited, looked for, and discovered different and better solutions. We became increasingly aware of and reassured by God’s tender mercies or graces, a major one being our developing the patience of waiting, looking, and praying.

Devotional reflections this month, no doubt will refer to the uncertainty, fear, and confusion caused by the pandemic. There are some strong words of reassurance in these two verses: “My song forever shall record; . . . every age shall know your name. . . . Mercies that endure, forever firm, forever sure, a strong support that never dies, established changeless.”God’s grace is abundant, even—or especially—in bleak times.

Loving God, help me to develop the patience to discern your faithful love and grace. Help me to help others to know your name and your tender mercies, especially now. Amen.

Written by Rebecca Dixon, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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