For 24 August 2020: Second Friday of Easter
Read: Psalm 13
Just a few weeks ago none of us could have imagined we would spend April and May of 2020 “sheltering-in-place” because of a viral threat. I’m watching the news and reading reports of protests and sacrifices. I’m seeing signs which tell our healthcare workers, delivery drivers, and store clerks “thank you.” I’m hearing for volunteers working tirelessly to make sure the most vulnerable among us are safe and receiving the care they need. Make no mistake, this is a crisis. We have faced events of this nature previously and will again.
One crisis of a previous generation in a place I keep thinking about during this period of “shelter-in-place” are the men, women, and children of England during World War II. We’ve been “sheltering-in-place” for a few weeks; those folks spent years living under even harsher conditions. I think back to the late 1980’s when the civil war in Lebanon was still raging. An agreement in 1990 brought that civil war to an end. That civil war began in 1975. I went to preach on Sunday morning after hearing the news about a cease fire and an agreement had been made. I felt relief that morning. I had made many friends of Lebanese origin while in school: My friends and their families were safe, now.
There in a pew just a few rows back from the front were three brothers ages 11, 12, and 13. Their father was with them in his Army utility uniform. He was leaving for deployment as soon as services were over. As the service began and with the news of the civil war in Lebanon ending in my mind, I thought to myself, “Those three boys have never known a time when that country was at peace with itself.” I was then struck by the harder of the rocks: There were boys in Lebanon ages 11, 12, and 13 who had never known anything but the harshness of war. Our complaints about sheltering-in-place become pale in comparison to those previous days in other places.
The psalmist asks, “How long, O Lord?” (Ps. 13: 1a, NRSV). The psalmist complains and calls on God to answer. Yet, God never speaks in the text. Rather the psalmist looks back and sees that in all those circumstances of their complaint, God was there even if unknown in the moment. The psalmist says, “But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Ps. 13:5-6, NRSV). Notice the past, present, and future on those two verses. The psalmist was able to look back and recognize not just that they themselves trusted, but they had something in which to trust: the love of God. The psalmist tells us of their present intention to rejoice in the salvation God has given. Finally, the psalmist looks back and sees the bounty of God’s provision in the past and anticipates the joy of the bounty God will provide in the future. The psalmist sees God in our past, present, and future no matter the circumstances; we can, too. Look for God, today. Look for God in yesterday. Look for God, tomorrow. God is in all those places and times blessing us so that we might bless others and sends us out to be a blessing. How will you look for and acknowledge God’s blessings today? How will you be a blessing to another, today?