The Upper Room devotional reflection for Saturday, June 27th comes to us from Carol Elaine Harrison of Saskatchewan, Canada.
Psalm 103:1-12 NRSV 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 do not forget all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
In 2001, my husband was diagnosed with cancer, my uncle died, and my mother’s congestive heart failure took a turn for the worse. A few months later my husband began cancer treatments, his father passed away unexpectedly, and my mother died.
Memories of the traumatic events of that year make it easy to overlook the positive things that happened. During those painful times, grief was a natural response. But I had to choose whether to remain bitter, angry, and discouraged or, like the prophet Habakkuk, to say, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.”
We all experience circumstances that leave us reeling, wondering which way to turn and if we will survive. Tough times are often beyond our control, but we can still choose how we react to the events. Psalm 103 reminds us to praise God because God is gracious, forgiving, compassionate, and abounding in love. Even when we do not understand how any good can possibly come from our present circumstances, we can choose whether we will focus on the negative or the blessings God has given us.
Prayer: Dear God, help us to choose to praise you every day, no matter our circumstances. Amen.
– Carol Elaine Harrison
How do you respond when you are faced with hardships and challenges? Each of us, at one time or another, will face seasons that bring us to our knees. We may face an unexpected loss of a job, the illness of a loved one or the end of a relationship. We all will face obstacles, yet Carol’s words remind us that our attitude in those moments is crucial. Will we only focus on the anguish and pain or will we – like our Psalmist – choose to praise our God who offers us joy. Our relationship with God does not excuse us from experiencing hardship, but it does give us the strength to remain steadfast amidst our struggles.