What Shall I Render?

Read: Psalm 116

What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? (v. 12)

This psalm reflects on a narrow escape from death. An illness (maybe a disease as deadly as COVID-19) almost slayed the psalmist. The sting of death was felt, the victory of the grave imminent. Through every restless night and anguished sob, the psalmist kept faith. The sting of death was felt, but alongside this assurance, the death of God’s children is precious to God. Whether he lived or died, he belonged to God, but he longed to live, so in faith he prayed, pleading for mercy, crying out for deliverance.

God delivered. Humbly mystified, the psalmist wondered: “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?” What could I possibly give? Hymnwriter Isaac Watts offers a fitting reply:

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

That’s what the psalmist vows to give: his soul, his life, his all.

As I write this, the coronavirus is wreaking havoc. Cases are rising around the world, and everyone is experiencing the crisis in different ways. So on the day after Christmas, what story will the numbers tell? What stories will you have to tell? If someone you love died, know their death is precious, not only to you, but also to God. If you have been spared, before God and the world, live life with grateful abandon. —Sue Rozeboom

As you pray, believe, remember, and give thanks.

About the Author

Dr. Sue Rozeboom is the Associate Professor of Liturgical Theology at Western Theological Seminary, where she and students together delve deeply into topics such as the Trinity and Christian Worship, the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments, historical Christian practices and what we can learn from them for the church today.

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