Rescued from Death
One of the Kenyan pastors shared with me last night as we ate dinner. “Brother Dave, I got a call at 1:00 in the morning. I always leave my phone on so that my parishioners can get in touch with me if they need me. A woman was calling. She had visited our church only once but had called one of our members and the member said she needed to call the pastor. ‘Pastor, I have poison here in the house. I’m going to take it. I was a pastor’s wife, but my husband died. The church has taken away my home. My husband and I had some land, but now the ownership is contested. I’m overwhelmed. I’m drowning. I don’t want to live!’”
The writer of Psalm 116 knew this same despair. He had faced this threat from death. In vs. 3 he states that he feels that death has him in its trap. He is surrounded by this overpowering enemy. The anguish is unbearable, but in the climax of this psalm death doesn’t win. He calls out in the name of the LORD. He prays for the LORD to deliver him (vs. 4), and the LORD answers and that’s why this is a thanksgiving Psalm, instead of a Psalm of despair and crying.
“Gracious is the LORD, the One who does right; our God is merciful, like a mother who cares for her child. He preserves the vulnerable. When I felt so insignificant, He delivered me. May my heart return to your resting place; for the LORD has been good to me. You rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.” - Psalm 116:5-9
My pastor friend looked across the table with that dazzling Kenyan smile, “I shared with this widow for more than an hour. I reminded her that the LORD would not abandon her. He still wanted her to live in the land of the living. At the end of our conversation she responded, ‘Pastor, I have the poison right here, but I’m not going to take it.’”
LORD, from having to make more room in an already crowded home for the orphans of parents who died of AIDS, to women who are abused by angry husbands, to threats at night when tribal rivalries get violent, only You can deliver my brothers and sisters I’m ministering to today so that they will have the strength to keep speaking Your peace into nights of despair. May Your Spirit guide as we go for another five hours of teaching and interaction today.
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