URC Daily Devotion 2nd May 2021 The Rev’d David Coaker
Sunday 2nd May Psalm 41
How blest is he who will regard the poor: He shall forever stand. In troubled days the LORD makes him endure: Blest is he in the land. His enemies demand his life in vain, Though he be near death’s door. The LORD sustains him on his bed of pain: His health Thou shalt restore.
I said, “O LORD, be gracious unto me, Heal me, my sins are great.” In malice speak my enemies of me, And for my death they wait. My visitor says empty words, O God, With mischief in his heart. When he goes out, he tells it all abroad, Rejoicing when I smart.
My enemies, with hatred fierce and grim, All whisper in disdain, “A deadly thing has gotten hold of him, He will not rise again.” See how my bosom friend, whom I did trust, With whom I shared my bread, Has turned against me, showing his disgust, And slanderous tales has spread.
But Thou, O LORD, be gracious unto me; Let me their ill requite. By this I know that Thou art pleased with me: My foes are put to flight. Forever in Thy presence I shall dwell, Upheld by Thee again. Blest be the LORD, the God of Israel, From age to age! Amen.
There are many interpretations of Psalm 41 seeing it as a lament, thanksgiving, or a healing liturgy. We also have an echo of verse 9 in John’s telling of the Last Supper: ‘Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me.’ Psalm 41:9 (NRSV)
It weaves together God’s care, and the desperation of the person who is ill. The assurance of God’s concern for the poor and the defenceless, and the fear the ill person has of other people’s intentions but also their trust in God. All of these conflicting emotions bound together by the psalm: confidence and fear, peace and desperation, innocence and guilt.
It is more than likely that similar waves of emotions have been experienced by many, if not all, of us. The uncertainties, restrictions, sickness, and bereavements we have faced and the times of happiness, liberation, health, and comfort we have enjoyed. All woven together in our overall experience of this pandemic.
These past months have not been easy for anyone. There are obvious examples of those that have gone above and beyond, but we should not minimise our, or others, hardships by making the extreme the baseline for our sympathy.
We are incredibly grateful for the sacrifices made, know that we can never truly repay them, and accept that there will need to be actions taken to heal the wounds that leave no visible marks and to rebalance the priorities of our national and personal finances.
Even in ‘normal’ times we only ever see a glimpse of another person’s life, and so we especially need to be patient, gentle and compassionate to others, and to ourselves.
Living God, we may not feel poor, troubled, defenceless, sad, attacked, or ill, but we still pray for your healing. We know we have fallen short, and ask for your grace and mercy.
May patience, gentleness and compassion surround us, our relationships and our communities. May your presence be forever near.
Blessed be God, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.
The Rev’d David Coaker serves with Grays URC in Essex.