Excerpted from Enough for All, a Lenten Guide for Lectionary Year B from the North Carolina Council of Churches.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
His steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks because there has been enough for all in the past, give thanks because there is enough for all right now, give thanks because there will be enough for all in the future. Give thanks because, you who are made in the image of God, you are enough. Why? Because God’s steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 118 is one of a collection (Psalms 113-118). It connects to Psalm 136 and all these psalms together are prayers of praise and thanksgiving. Why would we be talking about praise and thanksgiving right now in the middle of a pandemic? For this time and space, Psalm 118 seems strangely fitting even in the middle of a pandemic that for all of us, and our children, and our children’s children, is/will be a defining moment in history in every corner of the globe. It is fitting because it shares and reminds us that God loves all of creation with a steadfast love. These Psalms stand in defiance of hardship and grief reminding us that God’s love is steadfast and endures forever. It’s one thing to talk about the span of historical events or the universal aspects of human experience, but it is so very tangibly real to be living in the middle of this moment; a time when every person is sharing in the collective grief, uncertainty, change, loss, and pause that the pandemic has inescapably brought into daily life.
How many devotionals, sermons, words of wisdom, words of inspiration and exhortation have we read and heard and have recounted in our own heads like mantras about the God who saves, redeems, restores, and provides over and over? Every woman who is in the middle of feeling like there is not enough time, not enough brain space, not enough help, not enough of her. Every child who is saying enough of virtual learning, not enough outdoor time, not enough smiles with people my size, not enough childhood exuberance, not enough love. Every worker who has lost a means to provide for daily needs. Every family who has missed birthdays, weddings, dinners and simple occasions to be together. Every person who has lost someone without even the rituals that we typically use to say goodbye. It doesn’t seem like there is enough.
I think Psalm 118 reminds us that there IS enough space for our grief and our loss and our despair because God’s steadfast love endures in the smiles behind the masks, in the sunshine of our days, in the kind words that we share with each other, in the medical professionals who video call family so they could say goodbye to their loved ones, in the neighbors who are taking care of each other, in the socially distanced rituals of spiritual practices, and in the God who was and is and is to come. So while it is sometimes harder to hope right now, there is enough love to hold it all.