March 17, 2020

Unimagined Kindness

They stoop, they crouch, and the helpless fall by their might.
They think in their heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed.
—Psalm 10:10-12

Today is a time of trouble. The world is experiencing a pandemic and there is a great deal, not only of sickness, but of fear. And, to be honest, the fear seems worse than the sickness. The trouble is not limited to the disease, however. It's also economic. Stock markets are tanking, and entire industries are being negatively effected.

But our leaders are quick to act. Unfortunately, they're acting on behalf of the rich, even as they ignore the needs of the poor and the middle class—anybody who lives paycheck-to-paycheck. Kids who depend on school lunches for their only significant meal of the day, those who can't go to work because their workplace has been shut down, even those who need tests or treatment for a highly contagious virus: No action has been taken on their behalf.

Psalm 10 describes a situation in which the godless prey upon the poor. Their actions are literally those of predators. There's a lot I might say to compare the situation in the psalms to what's going on today, but I'll try to stay positive. If there are lessons to be learned on how not to be a predator, then on the flip-side of the coin, there are lessons to be learned about how we should be and act.

I remember my experience of September 11, 2001. Nobody knew what tomorrow would bring, and fear seemed to cover the earth. I was in an airplane during the terrorist attacks, so you'd think that my fear would be multiplied. But as a refugee in Newfoundland for five days of uncertainty, I was the recipient of unimagined kindness from people I didn't know and might never see again. 

So when I read a psalm about how horrible predators are during times of trouble, I will dwell on their opposite number—those who react to fear and trouble with generosity and kindness. My prayer will not only be that such people will multiply in my community and throughout the world, but that I might be part of their number.
Give me faith, O God, to believe, though the wrong seem oft so strong, that this world still belongs to you, that you are the Ruler yet, and that my actions must still conform to your coming Kingdom—not to the evil that surrounds me. Grant me kindness and patience, and help my heart to see goodwill in others, to understand their fear, and to look for the best; in Jesus' Name, who taught me to pray: Our Father...


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