Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19 (NRSV)
Verse 1I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
Verse 2Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
Verse 3The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
Verse 4Then I called on the name of the Lord: "O Lord, I pray, save my life!"
Verse 12What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?
Verse 13I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,
Verse 14I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
Verse 15Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.
Verse 16O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving girl. You have loosed my bonds.
Verse 17I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord.
Verse 18I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people,
Verse 19in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!
“What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?” I want to ask the writer of these words, “What if there is no bounty?”
I think of my friend who had little reason to be thankful. She lived her short life with physical suffering most every day. Every reason to complain, no good reason to rejoice. Yet she blessed others with her kind and gentle life.
I believe my friend’s faith was no guarantee she would be saved from troubles, but it did guarantee she would be a blessing to others. Her faith in Jesus was not a promise that her troubles would be over, her life full of joy. But her faith in Jesus was a promise that she would strive to help others in their troubles and would bring joy to this world.
The blessings that flow from faith may have a greater impact upon the neighbor than upon the one who is faithful.
Take my life, that I may be consecrated, Lord, to thee; take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise. Amen. (ELW 685)