Day 17

A Prayer for Hope

from the reading plan

Psalm 146:1-10

Before dementia began to cloud over his skills and liveliness, my grandpa was a talented piano player and a lover of classical music. A few years before he died, he declared that he wanted his funeral to end with “Hallelujah Chorus” chorus from Handel’s Messiah, a piece of music that is so jubilant it’s customary to stand when you hear it. And so, at the end of the service, having told stories about him and commended him to God, joy mixed with the sadness as I stood in the church sanctuary and listened to the exultant notes thundering from the pipe organ, tears running down my face.

Psalm 145 ends, “My mouth will declare the LORD’s praise; let every living thing bless his holy name forever and ever.” As if in obedience to this call, Psalm 146 begins with its own eruption of “Hallelujah!” It is the first in a series of five psalms that end the Psalter (or book of Psalms) on a note of joy, each beginning and ending with “Hallelujah!”

Psalm 146 is all the more powerful in that its prayer of praise arises after grief and disappointment. There are many notes of lament throughout the book of Psalms, and even within this psalm there is an awareness of suffering. Looking to human leaders for security has failed (vv.3–4). The exploited, the hungry, the prisoners, the blind the oppressed, resident aliens, those who have lost their parents and their spouses—all of them are desperate and looking for help. The Lord shows his faithfulness to the desperate by bringing them justice, sustenance, freedom, sight, protection, help, and the ability to stand up straight again (vv.7–9).  

The book of Psalms ends not under the raincloud of lament but with the thunder of praising voices. Yet it doesn’t ignore lament or pretend that nothing has gone wrong, and we should not ignore the many causes of suffering in the world and in our own lives. We should not act as though God’s victory has cost nothing, or as though God wants us to get our pain under control or all our questions answered before we sing our praises to Him. No, we praise God for who He is—and He is faithful forever, committed to reigning with justice over this world he has made (vv.6,10). 

When my grandma died last summer, she had been a widow for eight years and had had her share of health challenges. Despite this she remained faithful to the God who had been faithful to her, singing to Him as long as she lived. She wanted her funeral to end the same way my grandpa’s had: with the “Hallelujah Chorus.” On that day, joy and sadness again intermingled in the organ’s song, but with the sure hope that joy will win in the end—because “the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ…and He shall reign forever and ever.”

Post Comments (1)

One thought on "A Prayer for Hope"

  1. Noah Kelly says:

    Yes and amen!🙏

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