Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 41 describes the poet’s near-death experience. People came and went from his sick room, spreading rumors and waiting for him to die. His enemies said,
A vile disease has afflicted him,
he will never get up from his sickbed (v. 8).
His friends also turned against him. He says,
Even my best friend, who I trusted,
who regularly ate meals with me,
has become utterly devious (v. 8).
This reminds me of a scene from George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch. As Peter Featherstone was dying upstairs in his bedroom, friends and relatives gathered downstairs, calculating how much they might inherit, eating his food and waiting for his death. He surprised everyone with a stingy will.
In Psalm 41, those waiting for the poet’s death make us think of Jesus preparing for his death. At the Last Supper, as Jesus ate and drank with his disciples, Judas had arranged to make some money from Jesus’ misfortune. Jesus quoted verse 8 from today’s psalm: “He who shared my bread has turned against me” (John 13:8).
Jesus, we too have enemies who laugh and gossip at our predicaments, waiting for us to fail. Sometimes they are people we know, sometimes our own anxious thoughts. We have friends who abandoned us when our life fell apart.. We have been ditched unexpectedly by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Life has not turned out as we imagined it. Circumstances are not as we planned. Our bodies have grown sick, our businesses have failed, our finances have crashed, and our lives have gone into the pit.
Amid these difficulties, we discovered who our true friends were. Some were embarrassed by our failures and deleted our contact information. Some couldn’t handle our sorrow, so they stayed away. Some didn’t like hospital, so they didn’t visit. Others were too busy being positive to care about our negative experiences.
Judas was unfaithful to you, Jesus. Why didn’t you fire him when he stole your money and negotiated your betrayal? Had you not read popular psychology books that tell us to avoid negatively focused people, and to terminate toxic relationships? Like you, Jesus, we too have complex relationships. We are not sure when to press on in a spirit of tolerance and forgiveness, when to confront and ask people to change, or when to terminate a relationship gone wrong.
In our painful relationships, we follow the poet’s example. When enemies mock and friends abandon, we choose not to suppress our pain and disappointment. We express it to you. With the poet we look for your goodness and faithfulness, saying:
Blessed are those who have regard for the weak,
The Lord sustains them on their sick-bed
and restores them from their bed of illness.
Yes, Jesus, you look after us when we are weak and sick and forsaken. Seek us when we are hurt and helpless and alone. You are not afraid of the powerless and the dysfunctional and the dirty and the dispossessed. As the poet says,
Because of my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.
Yes, Jesus, that is what we want. Uphold us in our weakness, bring us into your presence forever. And help us be faithful to our friends when they are weak and helpless.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.