offered by Aileen Van Ginkel
Professor N. T. Wright, a leading biblical scholar and former Bishop of Durham, writes about the Book of Psalms in an intriguing way. In The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential, he says that they are “transformative”. The Psalms change the way we look at the world around us by shaping answers to key questions: “Who are we? Where are we? What’s wrong? What’s the solution? and What time is it?” (p. 7).
If all we read or hear these days are online or television reports, the answers to those questions are obvious. We’re among billions on the planet whose lives have been invaded by COVID-19 and who want a vaccine to be developed quickly. Many would say in response to the question, What time is it?, that we are living in a time of global emergency at best or global disaster at worst.
The writers of the Psalms are very familiar with emergency and disaster. Such circumstances form the backdrop to most of what they’ve written. But weaving its way through all of the Psalms is a note of hope, a thread of security. Reading the Psalms can help to mold within us a spirit of trust in God, no matter what we’re reading or hearing about the immediate or long-term impacts of the novel coronavirus.
Two examples that could form a good beginning and ending to each day in the coming weeks or maybe months:
I lay down and slept,
yet I woke up in safety,
for the Lord was watching over me (Ps. 3:5).
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe (Ps. 4:8).
Loving God, remind us daily of your care for us. Help us to listen for notes of hope in the midst of talk of emergency and disaster. Build in us the trust that you are watching over us and you are keeping us safe. Amen.