A Psalm in the Midst of the Coronavirus

bible on table

Today in my reading of the Psalms, I particularly landed on Psalm 55. It’s a lament, which seems appropriate for this current season of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The songlike prayer written by David is particularly lamenting how the wicked are coming against him, even from someone who was once a close friend (see vs13-14). I can only imagine how painful! That is the context in which these words of pain and distress pour forth from David.

In light of what we are currently walking through with COVID-19, I found some of the words quite relatable. Specifically vs4-8 seem like a response that many perhaps want to take up at this time.

My heart is in anguish within me;
    the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
    horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
    I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away
    and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
    far from the tempest and storm.” (55:4-8)

Fear leading to a desire to flee.

Fleeing to a protective place, wherever that may be in this day and time.

Yet, as this lengthier psalm heads toward a close, we find familiar words to tend the soul’s despair. We are used to reading them (or a portion of them) in the New Testament, particularly in Peter’s first letter (1 Pet 5:7). But the words were first penned by David.

Cast your cares on the LORD
    and he will sustain you;
he will never let
    the righteous be shaken. (55:22)

Our hearts are in anguish. Our mortality is more real than yesterday. We may even want to not just flee, but flee far away, even into the dessert, far from the storm of it all.

But here we are.

Most of us woke up this morning in our homes; some woke up in a hospital. Schools, events, religious centers of all types have generally closed. We are now encouraged to limit the max number of people in a gathering to fifty (which still seems high). This given counsel is undoubtedly wisdom for this time we are in.

We are doing our best to navigate this. Christians desire to be faithful in this time.

And part of that faithfulness is the casting of our deep, deep burden upon the Lord. It is in this we will be sustained and not shaken.

No, I do not believe this means Christians won’t contract COVID-19, nor that no Christians will pass due to the virus. There is no definitive certainty of that, my friends. Casting our cares (burdens and anxieties) on God does not mean we are wholesale free from possible ailment. No, indeed!

But our sustaining (literally our provision) and the unshakeable nature (the inability to be moved) of the righteous is that we will find the strength to remain faithfully anchored in the One who is completely faithful himself. Our commitment will be further forged to the ways of Christ, including our formation as a wise people who look to remain salt and light, a blessing to our neighbors in prudence, when our world needs it most.

May we pray these ancient words together.

Cast your cares on the LORD
    and he will sustain you;
he will never let
    the righteous be shaken.

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