Psalm 118 • Jeremiah 23:16-32 • 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 • Mark 8:31–9:1
Psalm 118 extols the Goodness of God by proclaiming, “His steadfastness endures forever.” The Psalmist invokes this phrase in praise of the God who has come to the aid of the righteous and allowed the people of God to triumph over enemies and adversity. The Psalmist recounts: “All nations surrounded me; In the name of the Lord, I cut them off. They surrounded me like bees; In the name of the Lord, I cut them off!”
In our modern world, we sometimes feel as though we are “surrounded” by a swarm of adversity that threatens us like the sting of “bees.” In our day-to-day life, we become overwhelmed with hardships, disappointments, and grief. We lose sight of the “goodness of God.” We lose hope. We begin to seriously question God’s personal love for us. We often lose sight of the “steadfastness of God’s love,” when we suffer the loss of a loved one. When grief sweeps over us as we bury a caring parent, a beloved spouse, an innocent child or a dear friend, the pain of the loss obscures our ability to feel God’s ever-present love. We harden our hearts, cursing God for our suffering. Which of us has not asked, “Why?” when confronted with hardship? How often have we despaired over the loss of a job; a child with a drug problem; or an illness that saps our vitality, tormenting our bodies with pain? How often have we lived through another long night, worrying about paying bills or wondering how we will survive the challenges and loneliness of aging?
During this season of Lent, we would do well to remember the proclamation of Psalm 118: “Out of my distress I called to the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.” Rather than curse our misfortune, let each of us proclaim: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
— Kathleen Lovett