May 20, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture: Psalm 34:1-4 (NRSV)
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
In these uncertain times, we need the Lord most of all. But we also need each other. Yes, our ability to be physically together may be limited because of the coronavirus. But we mustn’t let this stand in the way of our relational interaction. Maybe we can figure out how to be in the same space with appropriate social distancing. Maybe we can use digital technology to bridge the relationship gap. However we do it, let’s take advantage of the freedom we have to share with each other our struggles and victories, our sorrows and joys.
Today I finish a nine-part devotion called “Walking with God in Uncertain Times.” Recognizing that, owing to the coronavirus, we live in a time of significant uncertainty and anxiety, I have been reflecting on the difference God makes in such times. In yesterday’s devotion I focused on the affirmation in Psalm 31 that our times are in God’s hands. No matter the times in which we live, our lives belong to the Lord. We exist for his purposes, for his praise.
We are reminded of this by Psalm 34, which begins: “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Whether we find ourselves in certain times or uncertain times, in happy times or sad times, in plentiful times or meager times, the psalm writer invites us to join him by blessing the Lord and praising him continually.
What would enable us to bless the Lord even in uncertain times? What would inspire our praise even in times dominated by a pandemic? The answer given in Psalm 34 points to God’s deliverance: “I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears” (34:4). Verse 6 explains further: “This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD, and was saved from every trouble.” We’re reminded here that our worship is a response to God’s goodness and grace. In hard times, we remember God’s mercy in the past even as we pay attention to his mercy in the present and look forward to his mercy in the future.
It’s easy for me to overlook something in Psalm 34 that ought not to be missed. Yes, the psalm writer blesses the Lord. But notice that he’s not doing this all by himself. He says, “[L]et the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:2-3). Why is this so important? Because it underscores the importance of corporate praise. Because it encourages us to pay attention to the blessings and joys of others. At this very moment, I may not be in a place where praise comes easily. I may be in a hard place, still needing deliverance from all my fears. But if you share with my how God has been gracious to you, if you help me to see God’s deliverance in your life, then I’ll be able to join you as you bless the Lord.
In these uncertain times, we need the Lord most of all. But we also need each other. Yes, our ability to be physically together may be limited because of the coronavirus. But we mustn’t let this stand in the way of our relational interaction. Maybe we can figure out how to be in the same space with appropriate social distancing. Maybe we can use digital technology to bridge the relationship gap. Maybe we can rely on old standbys, like telephones and even letters. However we do it, let’s take advantage of the freedom we have to share with each other our struggles and victories, our sorrows and joys. As we do, may we bless the Lord in all of the times of life.
In “these uncertain times,” what helps you to bless the Lord?
In what ways are you experiencing God’s grace in your life, even right now?
Set aside a few minutes today for blessing the Lord. Offer thanks for God’s goodness to you. Praise God for who he is and for how he has been present in your life.
Gracious God, in this moment we bless you. Your praise fills our mouths. We celebrate your goodness to us. We thank you for hearing our cries for mercy and for delivering us from peril.
We praise you this day because you are good beyond our comprehension. Your love excels all other loves. Your grace is beyond. Your mercies are new every morning. You are faithful, utterly faithful, always there for us.
All praise, glory, and honor be to you, glorious God. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Business Ethics (Psalms 15, 24, 34)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.