Answer Me Quickly, O Lord

Today's lectionary text comes to us today from Psalm 143, a psalm that is attributed to David, the great king of Israel.

This particular psalm is traditionally held to have been written when he was on the run, fleeing for his life from his father-in-law King Saul.  Here in these two verses, David offers a fervent prayer:
7 Answer me quickly, O Lord;
    my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me,
    or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
8 Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
    for in you I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul.
It occurs to me as I sit here writing this that my version of being sheltered in place, quarantined, locked down, whatever you want to call it is not at all terrible.

For example, my version is vastly different than what a single mom, living in an apartment with three kids is experiencing...

Or a working family living paycheck to paycheck, without any paycheck is going through right now...

I'm also not considered among those who are critically vulnerable, which must be a terrible burden to bear, and one that could be cripplingly fear-inducing for some people.

And there are thousands of homeless people, who are not only vulnerable to the virus, but also vulnerable to the economics of all of this.  They are struggling to find food, shelter and so much more now that almost all of the rest of us are confined to our homes.

So my prayers during the COVID-19 crisis are often not for me.  I can't help but think about all of the people who are being affected by what has essentially become a global shutdown.

The prayers that I find myself praying, pondering and offering up to God have become much more generalized, aimed at the situation, and toward people I've never met.

Then today I read this Psalm, and my heart felt like it would burst.  "Answer me quickly, Lord... my spirit fails."

Because despite my privileged position in all of this, I am realizing anew just how much I need to know that God is there in midst of it.  I need to feel God's presence.  I need to know the way forward from here.

I need to know that we are not alone in this.

Maybe you have been feeling the same way, too.  Maybe you have felt like all of the things that are overwhelming you are first world problems, mild complaints in comparison to what others might be facing.

But you are entitled to your prayers, too.  You don't need to be afraid to embrace your frailty, to acknowledge your fear, and to be honest about your doubts.  This is how we have a real relationship with a God who is never far way, who is all around us, in us and through us.

So lift up your prayers to God today and tomorrow and every day after that... as long as it takes.  And then let your prayers lead you to thoughts of those who have prayers of their own, and whose needs might be vastly different.

Live in solidarity with the world, love it as God loves it, and be ready to move when it is time once again to move, to act when you are able to act, and to be the light of the world if ever darkness falls upon us again.

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.


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