American readers love biographies and memoirs. Stories of CEOs, presidents, movie stars, and musicians are purchased, downloaded, and shared in huge numbers every day. As we all try to live our lives, we remain perpetually curious about how others live, particularly those whose lives seem quite different from our own.
Among the most compelling and repeated stories are those that describe the author's arduous journey from despair to hope, from near-death to a renewed life. Even those of us who had a happy childhood or have never had problems with alcohol or drugs can understand what is described in the most desperate of personal stories. Suffering comes in a multitude of forms and no human being is immune to it.
The psalmist's words speak to the most common of our human experiences: the isolation of suffering, the desperate hope for relief, and the gift of healing. What a joy it is to know the God whose grace and power is the source of every human rebirth.
O God, thank you for the countless times you have brought me, body and mind, through my own times of darkness and hurt. Praise for your power to bring life from death. Amen.
Psalm 40:1-11 (NRSV)
1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
4 Happy are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.
5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.
6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
7 Then I said, "Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."
9 I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.
11 Do not, O Lord, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.