Thank the Lord again

A Reflection on Psalm 107.1.9 by Canon Rob
10th March 2024, The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Reflection for 10th March 2024 Being Mothering Sunday there will be many special Services taking place today, giving thanks for mothers and praying for them and the family life of this nation. Traditionally we also pray for our Mother Church. So please pray especially for St Dunstan’s today.

The last Reflection was on verses from Psalm 135 in which we were encouraged to praise God for all that He had done for His people. Psalm 107 also includes God’s activity in history, but today we are invited to express our gratitude to Him for who He is as well as for what He has done. You can see this in the opening words: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious, for his steadfast love endures for ever.” This psalm is about God’s incredible care for us and all His creation. For many that is a challenge when there is so much in the news which is depressing and, over the years, I have come across many who cannot believe there is a God. “If there is, how can He allow such terrible things to happen?” That view is understandable, but the God who Christians believe in loves and cares for us so much that He has given us free will rather than treating us like puppets who have no choice about the way we live. That can be very painful for us and I believe God is not immune from suffering too. St. Luke tells us that Jesus wept over Jerusalem [Luke 19.41-44] and he did so when his friend Lazarus died [John 11.28-36.] We are also fast approaching the time when we recall his terrible suffering on the Cross on Good Friday. The author of the psalm, who lived long before Jesus was born, will have witnessed much suffering in the world around him. Indeed Psalm 107 was probably addressed to those who have been in exile for years. Yet four times the author repeats the same phrase telling his readers to thank the Lord for his goodness. [Verses 8, 15, 21 and 31.]

Reflection for 10th March 2024 This is the Lord who, in verse 2, has redeemed [or saved] His people “from the hand of the enemy.” It is the same Lord who rescued His people, even those who “went astray” [got lost] as they wandered in the wilderness [verse 4]. Others went “Hungry and thirsty” and “their soul was fainting within them.” Yet, through all that they suffered they still had faith enough to call upon the Lord. Verse 6 says, “So they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress.” This verse, like the one mentioned above, is repeated four times. [Verses 6, 13, 19 and 28.] If you look through the Book of Psalms, you will see that a number of them are full of complaints about the Lord. [See, for example, Psalms 38 and 60.] At times when they suffer He appears not to be listening and they doubted His goodness. But they never seem to have doubted His existence and today’s psalm is full of thanksgiving for His presence among them.

Although only the first nine verses are set to be recited today, if you wish to read beyond them you will see that each time the psalmist recalls a cry for help, God responds to meet the particular need referred to. So in verse 4, mentioned above, some became lost in the wilderness but verse 7 says that God helped them find their way: “He set their feet on the right way till they came to a city to dwell in.”  Then, verse 10 says, “Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound fast in misery and iron.” Reflection for 10th March 2024 Perhaps this is a reference to them being held in prison. Whatever, God rescues them again as we see in verse 14: “He brought them out of darkness and out of the shadow of death, and broke their bonds asunder.” You may want to read the remainder of the psalm and find other examples of how the Lord provides the right help at the right time. Whatever the circumstances, He gives them the strength to meet and overcome the struggles they go through. Verse 9 sums this up beautifully as we see in the last picture and read in Common Worship, Daily Prayer: “…he satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with good.” It was true when the psalmist wrote these verses. It is just as true today.

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious, for his steadfast love endures for ever. Amen

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