Devotional: June 1, 2021
18 The Lord is near to the broken-hearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34: 18 NRSV
As our nation honored our fallen heroes yesterday on Memorial Day, and after more than a year in the pandemic, this verse from Psalm 34 feels timely and comforting.
Yesterday, our country remembered, grieved, and offered thanks for those servicemen and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. It has been said that nothing comes without a cost. That is true of our salvation, which is earned and given to us freely as a gift by our Savior Jesus Christ. It is also true of our freedoms, earned by those who fought and died so that we might enjoy such liberties, including the freedom to worship.
There is no doubt that this last year has been a year of grief. That grief has taken on many forms. Our country watched thousands suffer from Covid, and many lost their lives. We mourn their passing. For those who lost loved ones to non-Covid causes, the year presented challenges. Funerals were cancelled, delayed, or reduced in capacity when they were held at all. This lack of communal opportunities to say goodbye gave rise to what I call “unrequited grief.” From my perspective, it is palpably present in our world today.
Others were impacted negatively by the pandemic in many other ways. The economic impact caused an unbelievable amount of businesses to close. People lost their livelihoods. Children's education was impacted, and domestic violence surged in many more homes. Suicides occurred. People were unable to be treated for other physical struggles, as Covid patients overwhelmed our health care industry. Many people became isolated, unable to gather for fellowship, worship, or travel. Even handshakes and hugs became a casualty. The list of what we have lost over the last year is long… Perhaps this might be characterized as a true season of lament.
This promise from scripture reminds us that when losses break our hearts, the Lord is near to us. He is not far away. In fact, he is right next to us, walking through the valley of the shadow of death with us. God never leaves us to grieve alone. Never! He is right there with us, wiping away our tears. There is a reason why one of Jesus’ Beatitudes from Mathew’s Gospel is “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
The second half of the verse reminds us that when life crushes us, God promises to save us. Sometimes we are crushed through grief, difficulties, challenges, or obstacles. When we will feel overwhelmed by such challenges, Jesus is more than just our cheerleader, or helper. He does far more for us than just offering support from the sidelines. He is our emotional support. Rather than just watching us struggle, He does the heavy lifting, and will carry us when we reach out to Him. When waves from the storms of life threaten to drown us, the Lord is ready and willing and able to save us. All we need to do is to reach out to Him. The Lord’s enduring promise is to save us.
The moment when you are gasping for air, and your spirit feels crushed, is the exact moment the Lord wants to help you, and care for you. Take every challenge, and your broken heart, and offer them at the Lord’s feet. He is our lifeboat. We just need to reach out to Him. Jesus will pull us in, hold us, comfort us, and help steady our lives. God promises us salvation, and offers us hope. That is something we all need: individually, in our community, in our country, and in our world as a whole. May we find peace in the Lord.
Dearest Lord, thank You for holding me, caring for me, comforting me, and loving me. Help me to remember that You are there for me. Because of you, I do not have to face the challenges and burdens of life alone. Help me to guide others who are challenged towards you, so that they may rest in your strength, and saving power. May I always seek out opportunities to praise You. Let feast on the love You offer and rest in You when I am weary. I pray this prayer Your Holy name, O Savior and Lord. Amen