Lent Devotion: March 19th
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
1O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!
2Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
19Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
26Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27The Lord is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.
28You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.
29O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Parents everywhere have heard the refrain “Are we there yet?” Whether on a road trip in the family car or, in our context, on the 30- hour journey from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to the U.S., many of us tire of a journey that once might have excited us, especially if the journey entails some unpleasantness.
Today, we are well past the halfway mark, the twenty-ninth day of Lent. Some of us may be asking, “Are we there yet?” Can’t we just skip ahead to the praises of Palm Sunday for the one who comes in the name of the Lord to save his people or just go on with life as usual until the joy of Easter morning? Our Scripture passage for today is a helpful reminder that the deepest joy of Easter is inextricably linked to the passion of the crucified Christ.
These brief words in verses 22 and 29 remind us of the depth, complexity, and richness of God’s story. How did the builders make such a mistake? How could rejection be considered marvelous? How does it lead to joy and gladness? No, we’re not there yet; there are more opportunities for growth and discovery. We must press on in our Lenten journey with our sisters and brothers around the world, slowly and intentionally, resisting the temptation to skip ahead to the parts that make us feel good, to skip over the parts that leave us with questions, or to leave out the parts that make us uncomfortable. Doing so would put us at risk of missing out or even rejecting the marvelous doings of the Lord.
Resisting these temptations will help us to respond with deeper joy and understanding when at last we discover the empty tomb on Easter. Then, together we can respond with great gladness of heart: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
Prayer: We give thanks to you, Lord, for you are good and your steadfast love endures forever. Help us to wait on you in this journey that we might more fully comprehend your goodness, your love, and your marvelous ways. By the power of your Spirit, may we share these good gifts with those around us to the glory of your name. We pray in the name of our rejected, crucified, and risen Lord Jesus. Amen.
Mark Wilson is a faculty member of the Phnom Penh Bible School and board member of the TEE Association of Cambodia. He and his wife, Deb, have served in Cambodia for over 17 years.