Weekly Devotional – Week of Monday, November 23, 2020
Opening Prayer (from the Book of Common Prayer, Occasional Prayers)
Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your Holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Bible Reading –Psalm 69
29 But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! 30 I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. 31 This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. 32 When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. 33 For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners. 34 Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them. 35 For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it; 36 the offspring of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it. (English Standard Version)
Devotional –Thanksgiving in a Time of Covid
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. I look forward every year to gathering with family and enjoying fellowship and good food. For me it has always been a wonderful time of celebration. Thanksgiving is not however a joyous time of celebration for everyone. It can be especially difficult if you are going through a difficult time in your life. Some have lost loved ones recently and Thanksgiving can be a painful reminder of that loss. Others are estranged from family members and Thanksgiving is an agonizing remembrance of past wounds and brokenness. Instead of being a time of celebration and fellowship it can be a time of sorrow and pain.
The truth is Thanksgiving 2020 will be different for all of us. On many different levels there will be pain and sorrow for everyone. In some way, shape, or form this Thanksgiving will look different. Out of town friends and family might not be coming this year. You may feel it unsafe to risk being with other in a group. This year everyone can relate to the pain and loss of what has become our current reality in this time of Covid.
In Psalm 69, our Psalmist goes into great detail about the pain and affliction he has suffered. In the verse preceding our reading this morning he recounts to the Lord how he has been hated, attacked, and scorned by the people in his life. He spoke of his own personal failures and that he has become a stranger to his own family, regarded as nothing more than a foreigner in their midst. I think most of us can relate to what he was going through. Many of us feel the pain and affliction of our own failures or the reproach of others. We are all carrying wounds of the past 9 months. How in the midst of it all, can we find in our hearts anything to be grateful for this Thanksgiving?
In verse 29 the Psalmist comes to the point of a full confession to God about what he has been going through, “But I am afflicted and in pain.” It is a very honest confession before God. Yet in the same verse he went on to cry out to God, “let your salvation, O God, set me on high.” In the depths of his own pain and sorrow, the Psalmist turned to the one thing he knew for sure and the one thing he could always count on no matter how bad things were in his own life. He turned his thoughts and his attention to the salvation of God and allowed that salvation to lift his countenance toward what truly matters most.
After he turned his attention away from his own suffering and pain and towards God’s work of salvation in his life, he went on in verse 30 to cry out, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” Turning his thoughts to the saving work of God lit a fire in his heart of praise and thanksgiving to God for all that he had done in his life. The Psalmist did not deny his pain and suffering. Everything was not suddenly hunky–dory in his life. The pain and suffering remained, but the knowledge of God’s salvation gave birth through it all to a heart of praise and thanksgiving.
This Thanksgiving, no matter how difficult things may be in our lives, no matter the loss, the brokenness, or the pain that we might be living in right now, let us all turn our attention to the salvation we have in our God. God loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son into the world to die for our salvation. Our eternal place with God has been bought and paid for by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. No matter how bad things may be at the moment, we have an inheritance in Christ that cannot be taken away. The Apostle Peter said it best in his 1st Epistle,
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
For this reason, during this time of Covid 2020, we all have a lot to give thanks for. Amen
Closing Prayer (from the Book of Common Prayer, Collects)
Most merciful Father, we humbly thank you for all your gifts so freely bestowed upon us; for life and health and safety; for strength to work and leisure to rest; for all that is beautiful in creation and in human life; but above all we thank you for our spiritual mercies in Christ Jesus our Lord; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.