The psalmist calls us to thanksgiving for God’s enduring love and faithfulness. Over and over again the psalmist affirms the love of God, God’s hesed, which never lets us go. Praise and gratitude saturate the psalmist’s words as he affirms that this God is his God. They belong to each other in an unconditional bond of respect and support.
When we read the omitted verses of Psalm 118, we realize that the life of the worshiper has not been an easy one. He has experienced distress, hatred, enemies on every side. He had thought he might die. In the midst of the psalmist’s despair, God answered him and became his helper, his strength and might, his salvation.
The worshiper gives thanks to God not because life has been easy, untouched by human dilemmas and seemingly insurmountable challenges, but because God actively helped him resist the naysayers and his physical oppression. His vibrant songs of praise issue from his experience of God’s faithfulness. God is the source of his immortal gladness, which transcends circumstance, time, and space. God answers, grants success, causes light to shine, and calls forth another day.
When we hit our limits, when fear and anxiety break into our awareness, then comes our realization that dependence on anything other than God can fail us. Not surprisingly, the church reads this psalm every year on the Sunday that ushers in the difficult and challenging stories of Holy Week.
Limitless God, be with us as we make our Lenten journeys. Speak to us in our despair, and remind us of your undying compassion and care. Amen.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.