Thursday of the First Week of Lent
February 25, 2021
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 138, an ardent thanksgiving for favors received.
The psalm today reflects back to our first reading from the Book of Esther. The “favor received” in that story is a monumental one: saving the Jewish people from extinction. This deliverance is commemorated on the Jewish Feast of Purim which, coincidental to our liturgical reading, is celebrated this year on February 25th.
Reflecting on “favors received”, we might be moved to thank God for the blessings in our lives. Some blessings are evident from the get-go. But some come initially wrapped in challenge, worry, even anguish:
Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish,Esther C: 12-16
had recourse to the LORD.
She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids,
from morning until evening, and said:
“God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you.
Help me, who am alone and have no help but you,
for I am taking my life in my hand.
What is it that changes these darknesses into Light? Psalm 138 offers us this clue:
When I called, you answered me;Psalm 138: 3,7-8
you built up strength within me.
Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.
Certainly a positive outcome to our prayer, like Esther’s, allows us to see a blessing. But what about the times when the outcome disappoints or even devastates us?
The answer has something to do with spiritual “strength”, with a long faith like Esther’s. She puts her hope in the Lord and waits for the answer to unfold even at the risk of her life.
Trusting God like this means that we believe in God’s bigger picture for us and for all that we love.
- It means that, by faith, we live partly in the eternal world we cannot yet see.
- It means that the quintessential things of our heart and soul exist beyond time, in the unbounded love of God.
- It means that we trust God to complete all things in lavish mercy.
The LORD is with me to the end.Psalm 138: 7-8
LORD, your Mercy endures forever.
Never forsake the work of your hands!
That kind of faith won’t just pop up when we are in trouble. It has to be ingrained – the very fabric of our lives, knitted there by the prayerful surrender of our daily lives to God’s amazing Grace.
Poetry: Rock of My Salvation BY MORDECAI BEN ISAAC
TRANSLATED BY SOLOMON SOLIS-COHEN
Mighty, praised beyond compare, Rock of my salvation, Build again my house of prayer, For Thy habitation! Offering and libation, shall a ransomed nation Joyful bring There, and sing Psalms of Dedication! Woe was mine in Egypt-land, (Tyrant kings enslaved me); Till Thy mighty, out-stretched Hand From oppression saved me. Pharaoh, rash pursuing, vowed my swift undoing— Soon, his host That proud boast ’Neath the waves was rueing! To Thy Holy Hill, the way Madest Thou clear before me; With false gods I went astray— Foes to exile bore me. Torn from all I cherished, almost had I perished— Babylon fell, Ze-ru-ba-bel Badest Thou to restore me! Then the vengeful Haman wrought Subtly, to betray me; In his snare himself he caught— He that plann’d to slay me. (Hauled from Esther’s palace; hanged on his own gallows!) Seal and ring Persia’s king Gave Thy servant zealous. When the brave Asmonéans broke Javan’s chain in sunder, Through the holy oil, Thy folk Didst Thou show a wonder— Ever full remained the vessel unprofanèd; These eight days, Lights and praise, Therefore were ordainèd. Lord, Thy Holy Arm make bare, Speed my restoration; Be my martyr’s blood Thy care— Judge each guilty nation. Long is my probation; sore my tribulation— Bid, from Heaven, Thy shepherds seven Haste to my salvation!
Music: Rock of My Salvation – Maranatha Music