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Daily Devotional • December 11

Pamela Lewis
To the One Who Blesses
A Reading from Psalm 103

1    Bless the LORD, O my soul, *
    and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.
2    Bless the LORD, O my soul, *
    and forget not all his benefits.
3    He forgives all your sins *
    and heals all your infirmities;
4    He redeems your life from the grave *
    and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness;
5    He satisfies you with good things, *
    and your youth is renewed like an eagle's.
6    The LORD executes righteousness *
    and judgment for all who are oppressed.
7    He made his ways known to Moses *
    and his works to the children of Israel.
8    The LORD is full of compassion and mercy, *
    slow to anger and of great kindness.
9    He will not always accuse us, *
    nor will he keep his anger for ever.

10    He has not dealt with us according to our sins, *
    nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.
11    For as the heavens are high above the earth, *
    so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.
12    As far as the east is from the west, *
    so far has he removed our sins from us.
13    As a father cares for his children, *
    so does the LORD care for those who fear him.
14    For he himself knows whereof we are made; *
    he remembers that we are but dust.
15    Our days are like the grass; *
    we flourish like a flower of the field;
16    When the wind goes over it, it is gone, *
    and its place shall know it no more.
17    But the merciful goodness of the LORD endures for ever
                             on those who fear him, *
    and his righteousness on children's children;
18    On those who keep his covenant *
    and remember his commandments and do them.
19    The LORD has set his throne in heaven, *
    and his kingship has dominion over all.
20    Bless the LORD, you angels of his,
you mighty ones who do his bidding, *
    and hearken to the voice of his word.
21    Bless the LORD, all you his hosts, *
    you ministers of his who do his will.
22    Bless the LORD, all you works of his,
in all places of his dominion; *
    bless the LORD, O my soul.

A confession: I complain. It is easy to complain about life, and sometimes complaining is warranted. It can even be fun. But not for long; not when I am having a nice meal while watching the nightly news and am presented with footage of relentless global suffering. “Please be advised that some of this may be difficult to watch,” warns the well-dressed newscaster. Whatever I have complained about or want to complain about suddenly seems enormously inconsequential.

David’s list of God’s great benefits in the opening verses of this psalm also brings me up short in making me realize that I have little reason to complain, and that my life is very blessed. Not just because I live in freedom, have a nice home, more than enough to eat, and clothes to wear. But because God has bestowed me with eternal blessings, such as forgiveness of my sins, healing of my physical or spiritual diseases, and has given me love and compassion, even when I don’t always realize or deserve it. 

Suffering comes in many shapes and sizes. And we all have our seasons of lament. God doesn't scorn the sufferings, large and small, of any of his children. But I should still take care lest complaint become too easy, lament for my own circumstances a little too central and consuming.

I like to see this psalm as God’s résumé. It tells me that what God does is what God is really like. He never fails on the job, will not disappoint, and always makes the right decisions. Everything — angels, mighty ones, and all his works — come together to praise God. If I join them, perhaps I won’t feel like complaining.

Pamela A. Lewis taught French for 30 years before retirement. A lifelong resident of Queens, New York, she attends Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and serves on various lay ministries. She writes for The Episcopal New Yorker, Episcopal Journal, and The Living Church.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Anglican Church of Kenya
The Consortium for Christian Unity
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