THE BELIEVER’S MOTTO –
This is another of the psalms sung by Jewish people following the Passover Meal, and after drinking the third cup of wine. The Temple musicians loved this psalm because it offered magnificent praise to God for keeping His ministers from becoming complacent or falling prey to the discouragement that comes with being criticized for not doing a good job. Although it doesn’t describe going through some crucial stage of life-threatening proportions, it does implore being grateful for being miraculously delivered from a crisis of faith. Most of all, it presents God as a great listener. And by listening, the LORD assures us that we’re worthwhile, and someone He’s interested in seeing become significant to those around them. This way He makes us feel accepted and loved, even in times of weakness.
“I love the LORD Eternal because He listened and paid attention to me when I cried out in desperation. I was so stressed out and in such despair, I thought I would die. I believed what I’d heard about the LORD Eternal, so I pleaded with Him, ‘O LORD Eternal, keep me going!’ The LORD Eternal is our One True God; He is gracious, caring, and compassionate. Yes, the LORD Eternal watches over those who are immature and treated like fools. That’s the reason He came to my aid just in time. That’s why I keep telling myself how blessed I am because I benefited from the way the LORD Eternal took care of me. He kept me from certain ruin; yes, He kept my eyes from needless tears and my feet from tripping over things I didn’t see. Now the LORD Eternal and I walk in harmony every day. Even though I suffered greatly, I was able to keep my faith. That’s why I no longer pay attention to those trying to hinder me. So what can I give back to the LORD Eternal for all His graciousness to me? I will honor the LORD Eternal with the cup of remembrance as I celebrate who He is. I will do what I promised to do for the LORD Eternal, for all His saints to see. It must be heartbreaking for the LORD Eternal to see one of His saint’s give up. But I promise to be faithful to You, O LORD Eternal, as Your servant, the son of a mother who served You, and because You got rid of what was hindering me from going forward. I now offer You prayers of thanksgiving, and tell everyone that You were the One who made it all possible. Yes, I will be what I promised You I would be, O LORD Eternal, so all of Your children can see me serving in the ministry of Your sanctuary. O Hallelujah! ” Psalm 116:1-19
Reflection: On Sunday morning, October 23, 1983, at 6:22 a.m., a truck drove into the Beirut International Airport. After turning onto an access road leading to the U.S. Marine compound, the driver stepped on the gas and plowed through the barbed-wire fence; rushed through two sentry posts and crashing through the final gate slammed into the lobby of the barracks. The driver then detonated explosives equal to 12,000 pounds of TNT. The explosion crumbled the four-story building, crushing 220 Marines and 21 other U.S. service members to death while they slept. A few days later Marine Corps Commandant General Paul X. Kelly visited some of the wounded survivors in a military hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, who was severely wounded in the incident. The visitors saw so many tubes running in and out of Nashton’s body that a witness said he looked like a machine. As General Kelly drew near to him, Cpl. Nashton, though racked with pain, struggled to sit up. He motioned for a piece of paper and a pen, on which he wrote the Latin motto of the Marine Corps: “Semper Fi” meaning “Always Faithful.” With those two words Corporal Nashton spoke for millions of American servicemen and women, who while sacrificing their bodies, their limbs, and their lives for their country over the past centuries, remained faithful to the very end. The writer of this psalm had come through a very trying situation, but wanted God to know that he never considered giving up, for one moment. It wasn’t whether or not he came through this horrifying ordeal in good health; with all his organs and faculties intact, but that He was able to keep the faith. He did not want a medal or commendation; he only wanted to be counted among the faithful. He knew that faithfulness impresses God more than anything. It ought to make all of us examine ourselves to see where faithfulness rates on our list of important things to do in times of peril. For Corporal Nashton, and the Psalmist, it stood at the top of the list. Where does it stand for you?