Monday 5 April 2021

Safe Hands

I wrote this week’s ‘Word for the Week’, a weekly email service provided by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC). I originally wrote it a version of it for my own church community, coinciding with the anniversary of the first national lockdown in the UK, but it was ‘repurposed’ for this short series of reflections which ties in with the release of a set of Bible studies by members of the LICC team, to which I contributed, on some of David’s psalms – Worshipping the God of All in All of Life – published for Spring Harvest 2021.

In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;

let me never be put to shame;

deliver me in your righteousness…

Love the LORD, all his faithful people!

The LORD preserves those who are true to him,

but the proud he pays back in full.

Be strong and take heart,

all you who hope in the LORD.

Psalm 31:1, 23–24

‘My times are in your hands’, declares David. And for decades, David’s times were fraught with life-threatening danger. In 53 of his 75 psalms he mentions enemies. Time and again David turns to God. Time and again God is there for him. In this psalm he prays, ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God’ (Psalm 31:5). As the greater King, Jesus also prayed this prayer as he hung on the cross (Luke 23:46), committing himself into his Father’s hands.

But this isn’t just for David, or for Jesus. It’s for us, too.

‘Into your hands, Lord…’

It’s the prayer I felt compelled to pray last week, on the anniversary of our first national lockdown, designated as a ‘day of national reflection’ here in the UK.

I wonder, what did the anniversary bring to mind?

Perhaps it was queuing outside the supermarket only to find the shelves empty on the inside. Perhaps it was trying to capture the last time you saw your elderly parent, just in case. Perhaps it was the cancellation of planned celebrations or exams. Perhaps it was that as lockdowns ended and started again, with all the resulting uncertainty, you began to know more people who were impacted, and some of those closest to you were at the sharpest end of that pointy stick.

‘Into your hands, Lord…’

Or, perhaps you remember that you and your neighbours were suddenly so much more, well, neighbourly. Perhaps it was the rainbows in windows, which rightly applauded our frontline workers but also reminded us of the promises of God’s faithfulness embedded in Scripture as well as in nature. Perhaps you enjoyed the glorious Spring of last year, got out more, and rested more than you’ve done for ages.

‘Into your hands, Lord…’

Not just a prayer for kings, but a prayer for us.

The key is in the final two verses of the psalm in which David addresses God’s people. As those who’ve been on the receiving end of God’s love, he calls us to love and trust God, and wait for him in hope: ‘Love the LORD, all his faithful people! The LORD preserves those who are true to him... Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.’

Those hands that have kept us so far will keep us still. They are the safest hands of all.

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