Lord show me how to count my days, for life is like a single breath: so swift the passing of the years, so brief the course from birth to death; and all my labour seems in vain, however great the wealth I gain.
I have no hope, except in you, so show me mercy for my sin; let not my heart be overwhelmed as I receive your discipline. In hushed and holy awe I stand; I feel my pain, I sense your hand.
But why should those who scorn your name, derive enjoyment from my fear? I keep my feelings to myself whenever godless ears are near; yet how the fires within me burn, until at last to you I turn.
A stranger in the midst of life, a rootless traveller passing through, I ask you Lord to hear my prayer, and not to spurn my cry to you; but let me find instead of tears, sufficient joys for all my years.
I find myself in a strange situation. Months of restrictions and lockdown have meant many of the usual rhythms and routines of life have disappeared for over a year, and while on the one hand time feels like it is moving more slowly with decreased activity, on the other it continues to move at pace with it hardly seeming possible that we have been living with the global coronavirus pandemic for over a year.
The Psalmist seems to know something of that feeling too, caught in the fast pace of time, yet feeling they have nothing to show for it, their efforts in life pointless and futile. Perhaps this is also our experience as we have had to make changes to patterns of living; in the ways we work, volunteer, be neighbourly, worship, socialise?
In response the Psalmist turns to God. It is in God that they find hope; that they find their guidance for living; that they are lifted beyond their pain and experience the loving touch of the Creator.
Perhaps this may also be our response for these strange days? God is the one who offers us hope; for ourselves and for the world; who offers us a renewed vision of what the world may be like if we are bold enough to live and proclaim it so that others catch the vision too. Through the Word of God we find our guidance for living this vision – loving God and each other, being people of peace, pursuers of justice and sensitive stewards of the earth and in God’s presence the pain of our experience, and those of others is not diminished, but named and held and healed through all encompassing love.
In such a relationship with God, the Psalmist prays for joy not tears….let us pray
Gracious God, source of life and hope and joy we turn to you when times are strange and we feel the uncertainties of life. Renew in us your gift of hope through Christ Guide us as we ‘walk the way, living the life of Jesus today’ When we hurt, heal us from all that harms us and enable us to sense your love and peace so that we may live joyfully and abundantly with you. Amen.
The Rev’d Lindsey Sanderson, Minister, East Kilbride and Hamilton Joint Pastorate.