Devotion for March 18, 2020
“The Darkest Valley”
Our Psalm for this Sunday is Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be want.”
These are comforting words.
We have green pastures and still waters. We have the assurance of restoration for our souls and walking in right pathways. A table is prepared for us, our cups overflow and we are pursued by goodness and mercy for all of our days.
We need this comfort.
Right now, we are living not in the beginning or the end of the Psalm. We are living in verse 4.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, or the valley of the shadow of death.
Isn’t this where we are right now? Perhaps we are just at the beginning of the valley. China and Italy are up ahead of us walking in deeper shadows than we. Washington state and California are just a few steps ahead. And we are walking forward, unable to turn around, and knowing that some measure of darkness is closing in.
Even though this is where we are walking – we do not need to fear any evil. There will be evil around us. There will be sickness and even death – although we pray that this will be minimal. But we have an assurance stronger than the threat of illness, stronger even than death.
“For you are with me.”
We do not enter this valley – of social distancing, of Coronavirus – alone. Jesus will walk with us and shepherd us through.
Even here, in the darkest of valleys, there are right pathways, and Jesus will lead us along them. There are pathways of faith and love and hope. There are pathways of caring for one another. There are pathways of joy and humor and of using our time to create something positive.
· How will you spend time with your family as you work from home, and as school and sports and concerts and movies are cancelled?
· How will you reach out to your neighbors and help those who are at greatest risk?
· How will you build connections and relationships in this time of physical isolation.
We are entering a dark valley. But we are not alone. Jesus is with us, and Jesus’ love casts out our fear. Follow Jesus along the right pathways, and know that goodness and mercy are not far behind.
May Jesus give you courage and hope as you follow him this day,
Prayers in the Midst of a Coronavirus Pandemic
O God our Healer, show your compassion for the whole human family that is in turmoil and burdened with illness and with fear. Hear our cry, O God. Listen to our prayer.
Come to our aid as the coronavirus spreads globally, heal those who are sick, support and protect their families and friends from being infected. Hear our cry, O God. Listen to our prayer.
Grant us your spirit of love and self-discipline so that we may come together, working to control and eliminate the coronavirus. Hear our cry, O God. Listen to our prayer.
Make us vigilant, attentive, and proactive in the eradication of all diseases, malaria, dengue, HIV & AIDS, and others [may be named out- loud or in silence]… that create suffering and often result in death for many people. Hear our cry, O God. Listen to our prayer.
Heal our self-centeredness and indifference that makes us worry only when the virus threatens us, open ways beyond timidity and fear that too easily ignore our neighbor. Hear our cry, O God. Listen to our prayer.
Strengthen and encourage those in public health services and in the medical profession: care-givers, nurses, attendants, doctors, all who commit themselves to caring for the sick and their families. Hear our cry, O God. Listen to our prayer.
Inspire, give insight and hope to all researchers focused on developing a vaccine. Hear our cry, O God. Listen to our prayer.
Sustain all workers and business owners who suffer loss of livelihood due to shut-downs, quarantines, closed borders, and other restrictions… protect and guard all those who must travel. Hear our cry, O God. Listen to our prayer.
Guide the leaders of the nations that they speak the truth, halt the spread of misinformation and act with justice so that all your family may know healing. Hear our cry, O God. Listen to our prayer.
Heal our world, heal our bodies, strengthen our hearts and our minds, and in the midst of turmoil, give us hope and peace. Hear our cry, O God. Listen to our prayer.
Hold in your gentle embrace all who have died and who will die this day. Comfort their loved ones in their despair. Hear our cry, O God. Listen to our prayer.
Remember all your family, the entire human race, and all your creation, in your love. Amen.
-Dirk Lang, Lutheran World Federation
South-Central Synod of Wisconsin
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
God’s work. Our hands.
Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.
Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.
Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another.
Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.
Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.
Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.
Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.
Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.
Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.
Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.
Jesus Christ, heal us.
– Kerry Weber, America (Jesuit Review)