Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
In this time of pandemic, especially in places which have been hit hard by the disease, there is a lot of talk about grief. Not only do we experience reactions of grief when we lose someone who know, but times of crisis and destruction bring out those feelings of loss and abandonment. We even find ourselves dealing with grief reactions sometimes when we confront uncertainty. What if our lives are changed forever? As I write this, about two weeks before it posts, it’s been a month since a large part of my nation shut down. The death toll in my country has been over twice that of the 9/11/01 attacks, which threw us into an intense period of grief and uncertainty. In fact, when I was driving to pick up family members at O’Hare airport in Chicago on March 13, I observed public reactions and behavior which looked very much like it did shortly after September 11. There was a lot of uncertainty. People were really quiet. They were tense. Perhaps it is a kind of grief.
Our reading from Psalm 147 has a lot to say about this situation. What does God do? He gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. This is the work of a healing God who is visiting his people in a time of displacement and disaster. He brings hope. It is not that the trouble has never been there. He doesn’t undo the past. He doesn’t undo the present either. He makes his people able to face their troubles and find their identity as those he has gathered and redeemed.
The apostle Paul writes about this in 1 Thessalonians 4:13. He reminds the Christians who have endured loss that they don’t grieve as people who have no hope. Jesus has proven himself victorious over death itself. Those who die in Christ are resting in the hope of the resurrection. Those who mourn their passing can also hope in the resurrection. There’s no abandonment there. No loss. No uncertainty. It’s a hopeful message.
This is why God’s people hope in the Lord. He is the one who has entered the world with his steadfast love. He is the one who can care for his people through thick and thin. There’s no fear in that. Thanks be to God.
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