We Do Recover

Two people whom I admire very much are hard-working advocates for addiction recovery. One is in her thirties, and is a recovered drug and alcohol addict. She has turned her life completely around, owns a fitness studio, and produces an addiction recovery podcast that aims to help others recover as well. (Check out Chasing Heroine) The other is a former High School chum who has fought hard to be sober for several decades. His encouragement to other alcoholics to join AA, combined with his own personal testimony, has made him an effective witness to the recovery movement. These two people inspire me and I pray for their continued recovery all the time. They both post under #wedorecover, and every time I see that hashtag, I am compelled to pray for everyone who is working to overcome the illness of addiction. If this is you, congratulations, and know that many people are rooting for you and are proud of you.

Our Psalm today puts recovery in a focused spotlight. The psalmist is recovering from some life-destroying illness or injury, and he lifts his weary head up to offer praise and thanksgiving for God’s intervention.

Psalm 116 (New Revised Standard Version)

I love the Lord, because he has heard
    my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
    therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
    the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
    I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “O Lord, I pray, save my life!”

Sheol is an Old Testament concept of a type of hell, a place where people went when they died. It is a word for the abode of the dead. Most scholars think that it is derived from a word meaning hollow. To the Hebrew mind, Sheol was a place of destruction and utter desolation. It was believed that Sheol was located deep down in the earth, as hell is often thought of today.

I don’t know a single person who has struggled with addiction who hasn’t experienced Sheol.

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
    our God is merciful.
The Lord protects the simple;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest,
    for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling.
I walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.

What are you recovering from today? Do you have an addiction? Have you been sick? Suffering from COVID? Dealing with a failed marriage? Trying to pick yourself up from unemployment/disappointment/family estrangements/your own stupidity?

You are not alone. We are all trying to recover from something. So as you struggle, remember this: God will deliver you. He will walk beside you. He protects you and he will save you, but you have to call on the name of the Lord. ”Oh Lord, I pray, save my life!” Say this, and he will flee to you.

Thanks be to God.

We Do Recover by Kathy Schumacher

Songs of the Pandemic

The Psalms were originally written to be sung as songs. They provide a glimpse of ancient Hebrew life when we read them and hear what the people were experiencing. Music has always been a way to record the joys, sorrows, angst, and fears of a generation. In the Psalms, we experience the hope and sadness of that generation, and surprisingly, they translate into songs for our current circumstance as well.

As you read this, think of those who have lost a loved one to COVID 19. Think of the exhaustion of the front line workers who are taking care of us, feeding us, providing services for us, and putting their own lives at risk for us.

Psalm 116 (New King James Version)

I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”

In every circumstance, God’s people have called upon the name of the Lord, and in every circumstance, God has inclined his ear. Wherever we find trouble and sorrow, we also find God, right there in the midst of it.

What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
13 I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.

Many have died. Many more will die. All are precious in the sight of the Lord. We are one day closer to the end of this thing, but we aren’t finished yet. How can we continue to sing in the middle of this pandemic? What should our lyrics be?

I think we should join the chorus of the original Psalmists, and sing praises. We should lift our voices high in harmonies of thanksgiving. Let us simply praise the Lord. Praising God in the storm reminds us of who he is, and whose we are. God loosed our bonds so that we might be free of all fear and sadness. Yes, there is death, but death has no sting. Praise the Lord!

16 O Lord, truly I am Your servant;
I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;
You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord.

18 I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people,
19 In the courts of the Lord’s house,
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord!

Singing Alone in the Pandemic by Wende Pritchard