I don’t know, but things have seemed crazy lately. I’ve been doing too much, which explains why I’ve not even looked at this blog for over a week. And writing something… well that’s asking a lot. I won’t even list all that I do because it’s tiring to think about.
Anyway, this morning I read Psalm 103 for my morning devotions. My practice for the last several years has been to set aside time every morning for devotions. I make it my rule that I can’t touch my computer until I have completed them. As for my devotions, I don’t do a whole lot. I always read a psalm and then pray. Usually I also read other parts of the Bible, generally reading a chapter or two of a book or a story. I finished David’s story about a week ago. As for the psalm, I just read them in order – one a day – kind of like the vitamin.
It just happened that my day’s psalm was 103 AND it turns out it really helped me.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.
As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word.
Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will.
Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul.
After reading this psalm I was struck how intense the last several days have been for me. Two of my hospice patients died in the last week. One of them I had been seeing since late autumn. The other one I barely knew, but was asked by the family to do the graveside service (which I did). I learned the other day that one of my clergy colleagues died unexpectedly. We installed her as the pastor and teacher at her church just about a year ago. Her funeral will be Sunday.
I went to a meeting last night. Most of the people gathered around the table were clergy. We had a great meeting. Excellent sharing and thoughtful discussions. But underneath the fellowship, many were carrying some tough stuff. The burdens around the table included a teen suicide, a teen death from cancer, and a congregation without a heart for its pastor. I arrived home to learn that last night the home of another colleague in ministry suffered a significant fire (thankfully he and his family is safe) in his home.
I didn’t realize the heaviness of my heart this morning until I read this psalm. The weight of my own ministry. The weight that comes with sympathy and empathy. The weight that comes with loss.
Bless the Lord, O my soul… It’s a blessing that I can offload my burdens to God – to be relieved of them even for a brief moment. It’s a blessing that God’s compassion is beyond our comprehension. It’s a blessing that each of us, though insignificant, matters to God. It’s a blessing that God’s steadfast love is everlasting to everlasting. Bless the Lord, O my soul…
For awhile my burdens were lifted, which allowed me to concentrate better upon my prayers. The stuckness I’ve been feeling this week with my prayers was gone – goodness knows I needed it. Bless the Lord, O my Soul.