Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD.
Psalm 31 is a song of lament, yet this last verse of Psalm 31 is a word filled with encouragement, a word of faith and hope. Lament does two things simultaneously. It deals with anguish and at the same time it expresses hope. We often think that these two things cannot coexist. Most of the time we feel in the dark places of life that is all there is.. If we have hope, then we shouldn’t feel anguish. If we feel anguish we will have no hope. Yet the psalmist tells us that in the very depth of our anguish, our darkest times, we can also have hope.
That is what we can hold onto in these times of the Coronavirus pandemic. I am not saying that we don’t continue to fear the dreaded disease that surrounds us, but that in the midst of our fear and lament, in the midst of our tears and sorrow for those who are ill and those who are dying, we can also have hope in God and take courage that this time of anguish will pass as we wait for the Lord. And, while we wait we follow the cleanliness instructions we have been given by health officials to do our part in fighting the disease.
In this time we have a challenge and a choice. The challenge is to place all our hope with God. The choice is for disappointment or faith. Many times we pray for deliverance. Save us, Lord, from this predicament. Many times, God answers that prayer, with an inner strength to carry on through the darkness and the battle. In either case, the challenge and the choice are the same. Come closer to the Lord; and choose faith over despair.
In his final moments on the cross, Jesus reflected on his challenge and choice. It was there that Jesus prayed scripture, “Into your hands O Lord, I commend my spirit. You redeem me, O Lord, faithful God.” (Luke 23:46). On the cross, Jesus reminded his enemies of his faith in God, by reciting Psalm 31:5. Here he gave us with an example of how anguish and hope can coexist. In our prayers this week let us thank God for giving the strength needed for others and for ourselves as we endure the fears and uncertainties with this pandemic.
1. As you pray this week will you remember to include a prayer of thanksgiving to God for strengthening you each day to face whatever comes with courage?
2. Will you give praise and thanks to God for all those who are working night and day to save those who are ill, and all those who are seeking ways to provide a vaccine against the Corona virus?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.