"My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me." Psalm 63:5-8
This past week’s horrific news of the death of a mom and son came with shock and confusion. Questions of all kinds fly through one’s mind. The loss of a friend, neighbor and colleague, the loss of a classmate and friend have brought a crushing set of emotions.
This post need not try to list those emotions. Certainly it shares in shock, sadness and loss. We bear one another's burdens.
Life in Christ means the certainty of His Words as there is certainty in His Work. His is a complete work - His perfect life on this earth, His innocent death on our account, and His victory over death by rising again. His life is truth and what He gives to us in His Word is truth. And so we hold onto truth. Truth in a crushing time.
The Psalmist encourages us to remember that God has, “Been my help” and His “Right hand upholds me.” We often remember things after the fact (frankly, we don’t have the future plans explicitly in our hands). We need the past to inform the future. We do know and can be certain that our Savior (your Savior) will be our help, even in this challenging time, anytime, all the time. We also know the end of the story. When Jesus said, “It is finished”, He meant it and put an exclamation mark to the words with a glorious resurrection.
Jesus is victorious. In Jesus, we win. We can be certain of that win even as our fight still goes on. It's knowing the movie’s end. We win, with Christ.
Paul said to the saints in Rome, "For I know that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). And later, Paul goes on to say, " And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him." The chapter finishes with, "For nothing can separate us from the love of God ...."
As I write this blog post, I recall that I’ve shared a similar message of three words in response to friends, family and colleagues who have experienced major challenges already in 2023. The message? Lord have mercy. Cancer? Lord have mercy. Hospitalization? Lord have mercy. Uncertain financial situation? Lord have mercy. Thin-skinned from an exhausting period of trial? Lord have mercy.
It’s not a trite prayer. It’s not a “write it off prayer.” It’s not a shrug of the shoulders prayer. The prayer is the prayer of the faithful. It’s the prayer of the penitent. It’s the prayer of the needy. And it sets us firmly in the One who is the beginning and the end.
We might be at a loss for words. We might be wanting to find answers to whys. We may even want to try to ignore or run away from what is going on. But as brothers and sisters in Christ, we join together in this quiet prayer bearing with one another’s burdens and leaning on our Savior.
“Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.”