“In you, O LORD, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.” (Psalm 31:1)
Two things are motivating my reflections today for this passage. First, my reluctance to battle the predetermined formatting that the publishing platforms use; sometimes it is a struggle to get it to look as I want it. Second, and more importantly, the conversations and debate over opening and/or keeping segments of society and businesses closed. I have made a statement about that on my Facebook page. During Lent I focused pretty regularly on the covid-19 outbreak and pandemic. I had hoped, as I am sure many did, that it would settle down and we would see resolution to illness and a ceasing of deaths. That does not seem to be the case. And the alarm I viewed closed and shuttered businesses, and the revamping of business that remained open has turned inward as talk of opening things back up becomes louder and more prevalent. In short, I am starting to fear for myself. I am pretty defenseless and vulnerable to corona virus. And, well, the opening verse of this passage pretty much defines my thoughts – if you would substitute being put to shame with becoming sick. And compassion for righteousness, although compassion and righteousness are closely aligned with the Divine.
“Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me.” (Verse 2)
I am not sure if it would be better to ask the Divine to rescue me from possible illness, or from the fear of illness. I have for many years determined not to ask the Lord God to heal me from my illnesses and diagnoses, starting back in 2001 when I was diagnosed with diabetes. Maybe it is the fear I need to be rescued from. But it is not just personal fear for just me, but others who are know are just as vulnerable in their health or lack of it. There is a large “community” of us with chronic illness who would never survive an encounter with corona virus. Some in that “community” have already become sick and died from it.
“You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.” (Verses 3 – 4)
Is “fear” the net that will catch me? Will my fear lead me to do, say, or think things that cause me to depart from the Lord and the faith journey I have been on? Actually, that causes me even more fear than covid-19! The first step would be forgetting that the Divine is my refuge, so maybe I have already stepped minutely from that path. I tell you, beloved reader, I took some time to formulate my Facebook message; and wrestled with making this the theme for today and this passage. As so often happens however, the course of my discourse is laying out in front of me, so I am comforted that the topic is acceptable.
“Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.” (Verse 5)
It is really not my own death that I fear, but the ripple effect that might spread through my family and friends. It is one thing to die because my health failed because of my diagnoses. It is quite another to die because a new and external health threat took my life. I have tried very hard to keep myself as healthy as possible. Working with my medical providers and healthy lifestyle practices have given me health such that I can do most things that are needed. But this threat from a virus that leaps from the very life breath of another person has me trembling. And so I pray with the psalmist . . .
“My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.” (Verses 15 – 16)
As is so often said these day, beloved reader, be safe and be well! Shalom & Selah!