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A Prayer for the Living

May 6, 2020

“Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” Psalm 31:5

Jesus’ dying words, like so many of his words, come from the psalms. This makes sense, of course, as Jesus is the Word who spoke through the psalmists. In the midst of despair, at the end of suffering, Jesus quotes Psalm 31, which happens to be the appointed psalm for this coming Sunday.

Jesus prays this psalm as a sign of confidence. Even in death, he is in his Father’s hands. Because of his dying prayer, Christians throughout the century have used these words at the time of death, and rightfully so. What better way to stare death in the face and declare God’s power of resurrection life?

These words, however, are not only for the dying. James L. Mays writes: “in Hebrew and in the context of the psalm the sentence means something like ‘I entrust my life to your sovereign disposition’; it is an existential confession of ultimate helplessness, dependence, and trust, a way of saying in the midst of affliction, ‘It is up to you, God, what becomes of me, and I am willing to have it so.'”

We are in the midst of affliction. “Ultimate helplessness” is a phrase to which many can relate. But we are also where we have always been, in the hands of a God who holds us, placed there by the Christ who stared down death, trusting that life would win out in the end.

When I pray with people in the midst of illness or difficulty, I’ll often pray thus: Lord, we place her where she has always been, where she already is, in your hands.

This is where we are, held by the Spirit in the hands of God. It’s true when we’re living, true when we’re dying, and true on the other side of that. Whatever is going on in your life today, remember you are held in God’s hands.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God, our lives are in your hands. Help us to see how dependent upon you we truly are. Give us faith to trust you in all things. Teach us to be your hands in this world, upholding others in grace, working together for life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Creazione di Adamo (detail), Michelangelo, c. 1508-1512 (public domain). Although there is space between their hands, I like to think that in Christ the hand of God takes hold of Adam and all humankind, pulling us across the gulf that once separated us.

From → COVID-19

  1. Ruth Ann Reko permalink

    Thanks, Pastor, for these comforting words. I have just spoken to a woman living alone in OP whom I’ve volunteered to call. She will be 90 at the end of May and she says “We’re too blessed to be stressed.” Her witness to me is more than I’m doing for her for sure.

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