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“Benefits” - April 7, 2021

“What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” Psalm 116:12 (ESV)  

Do you find the poet’s question above difficult to pose for yourself in these times?  In seasons of hardship, stress and challenge, especially those coinciding with a pandemic that is so exasperatingly dragging itself out; speaking of “benefits” for which to give God thanks might seem at little out of touch.

Psalm 116 is sometimes a suggested reading during the Easter season.  If one reads the early part of this psalm you can understand the connection.  The poet writes of his being entangled “in the cords of death,” his being engulfed in “the anguish of the grave” and his “soul” needing to be “delivered from death.”  However, he is also able to identify and give thanks for resurrection-like rescues.

What the poet does, we can do too.  Despite all the pressures, injustices and circumstances beyond our control in life, identifying “benefits” is possible because of Easter and the Risen Christ.  In fact, not only is it possible, training the eyes of our hearts toward God in thanksgiving is itself a benefit. 

We have just celebrated the greatest benefit that we and all of creation might receive, being untangled and relieved from the grip and anguish of death through the resurrection of Jesus.  Having the eyes to see “benefits” begins with centering ourselves at the empty tomb.

The following hymn calls us to give thanks to the living Lord, the Risen Jesus.  It is offered through the New Hampshire Episcopal Church.