I’m writing this post on a Sunday evening. This Sunday was no ordinary Sunday, however, today good brother and elder in the Lord’s church finished fighting his good fight and went to meet His Lord. Duane Coss died at about 10:30 this morning after a two and a half year struggle with cancer. Some might have retreated because of the disabilities, therapies, and a grasping for what remains of life, but Duane continued to do what he could as a shepherd of the congregation. There’s a lot that should be learned from his example. His love for God, his faith and courage in adversity, and his commitment to the Lord is reflective of someone who appreciated the grace and redemption of the Savior — which brings me to the first psalm in our reading today.
His lovingkindness is everlasting (Psalm 136) — This is unique psalm in that it was apparently intended to be what is known as a responsive reading. Like the spiritual “Amen” in which a lead singer sings a line while the chorus responds with the same thing throughout, this psalm has someone (or possibly some special singers) tell of the manifold goodness of God toward His people, while a repetitive “chorus” was chanted again and again — “For His lovingkindness is everlasting”. The cumulative effect is a profound understanding of how God’s love for His people was, is, and continues to be manifested toward them. He begins with praise for the LORD above all other so-called gods, transitions to the story of the Exodus and conquest, and then expands to God’s continued support, rescue, and sustenance — because “His lovingkindness is everlasting”. If anyone’s listening, somebody ought to write Christian version of this psalm; it’s powerful and could help support our faith in times of trouble.
Bitter consequences (Psalm 137) — This psalm was written in the exile as a lament for the bitter consequences of their sins. It is suggested that this may reflect a time when Israel’s tradition of meeting by the river for prayer as a substitute for a synagogue was in formation — Paul in Philippi knew that without a synagogue, the river was where Jews met. The thing in this psalm that I’d like to briefly mull over is the bitterness of the consequences of sin. Like Israel it is not so unusual to practice sin and think, “There are no consequences” — a common modern expression of this is that “X” is a victimless crime. But the consequences do come, and when they do, they are bitter, unstoppable, and strong.
The LORD will accomplish what concerns me (Psalm 138:8) — This psalm is one of sincere thanksgiving, which all by itself makes it worthy of reading and thought. But toward the very end of this psalm of thanks is an uplifting reminder that God is really interested me and you. Oh sure, He’s interested in us as a part of a larger chosen people, the church; but could He possibly be really interested in me? “Yes,” David says. “For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar.” Psalms 138:6, NAS95. “The LORD will accomplish what concerns me.” How comforting, how encouraging! I’m important enough for God to pay attention to, and my griefs and petitions are not lost in the prayers for world peace and help for earthquake victims! Especially when our hearts are broken in personal or private sorrow — the LORD knows and cares and will accomplish was concerns me!
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.
Duane was my supervisor at E-Systems in Greenville, TX. He was also a senior colleague, and someone that I held in the highest regard as a young entry-level engineer. There’s a place in my mind that represents “what an Engineer looks like” and he’s in it. He was one of my valued mentors and models since I first met him. It is with great pleasure and gratitude to our Savior, that I anticipate the day I’ll see him again on the other side.