I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in him. (Psalm 40:1-3)
In these verses from today’s Daily Office, the psalmist celebrates God’s saving faithfulness, which rescued him when he was deep in trouble. But what allows one person to reach toward and trust in the Light, while another person facing similar circumstances succumbs to the darkness?
The other readings in today’s Daily Office offer a study in contrast. In the Old Testament lesson (1 Samuel 31:1-13), King Saul comes to an inglorious end. Destined to lose his crown and surrounded by enemies, he sees no hope in his situation and elects to end his own life. In the New Testament lesson, on the other hand (Mark 5:21-43), a synagogue leader names Jairus also faces a situation that seems devoid of hope. His daughter is already dead. And yet, Jesus offers Light that pierces his darkness — “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (v. 36) — and Jairus’ daughter is restored to him.
Stories like these, of course, invite us to consider the status of our own hope. As we stare into the dark places in our lives, do we still have confidence in the promise “that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”? (Romans 8:38-39)
But just as important, perhaps, stories like these invite us to consider our role in bringing hope to others. In the psalm quoted above, the psalmist declares: “He put a new song in my mouth.., a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in Him.” Apparently, it is the psalmist’s song of deliverance that makes it possible for others to find faith. And whether knowingly or unknowingly, we are likely to interact with many people today who feel that they are stuck in mud and mire — and who need to hear our song of praise in order to find their way to the rock.
Today, may the hope that you have (or maybe better said – “may the Hope who has you”) prove to be immeasurably more than able to pull you out of even deep darkness. And may your songs of praise and gratitude bring Hope to those who need Him most.