June 11, 2021
Ginny West Case
Green Meadow UMC
Psalm 921 It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
2 proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
3 to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.
4 For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
5 How great are your works, Lord,
how profound your thoughts!
6 Senseless people do not know,
fools do not understand,
7 that though the wicked spring up like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they will be destroyed forever.
8 But you, Lord, are forever exalted.
9 For surely your enemies, Lord,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
10 You have exalted my horn[b] like that of a wild ox;
fine oils have been poured on me.
11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.
12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
As I drove my my four-year-old daughter, Jennifer, for an oncologist's appointment at Vanderbilt, I began to sing to her. Well, maybe I was singing to myself more as I knew it would be a challenging day of probing and sticks for her. I sang:
When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone.
As I finished the song (yes, she let me finish), she said, "But, Mama, your head will get wet."
Yes, our heads did get wet as we walked on through the storm of leukemia that finally claimed her earthly life.
Yes, there were times when it was challenging to "to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to God; (Psalms 92:1) There were definitely times when we "walked through the valley of the shadow of death." Our heads got wet! Yet, somehow, we were able to find moments "to declare God's steadfast love in the morning,and God's faithfulness by night," (Psalm 92:2).
There were so many who demonstrated God's steadfast love by their large and small acts of kindness. There was the Sunday school class that knew I was challenged to get Jennifer to take her "yucky" pills. They sent small, individually wrapped gifts for her to open as a reward for taking her medicine. There were the nurses and doctors who encouraged and comforted us every step of the way.
There were moments when I knew "God's faithfulness by night," when I had to learn to walk in the dark, to use Barbara Brown Taylor's book title. During Jennifer's dying process, I received a vision in the night that Jennifer was dressed in a pretty yellow dress and dancing in a circle of children. Yes, God was faithful to let me know that healing would happen for my darling daughter.
Bob Deffinbaugh points out that the ancient writer Pliny wrote concerning this Psalm:
"the pinnacle of the psalm is found in verse 8: “But Thou, O Lord, art on high forever.” This statement is not only central to the message of the psalm, it is positionally at the center. While the other verses each have two lines, this verse has only one. It falls exactly in the middle of the psalm. Some see this as a clue to the structure of the psalm. Not only is this verse at the center of the psalm formally, it is at the center theologically."
I believe I was able to be nurtured and even grew in my faith during this experience with Jennifer. I knew and I know that God is at the center of all things. God doesn't cause bad things to happen, but God is there in the center of all things and works for our good.
Ultimate healing came for Jennifer when her beautiful spirit left a body that did not serve her well.
I remember when Jennifer at age three participated in the Palm Sunday Parade. Afterwards, our pastor, Bro. Roy, asked what she thought about it. She put those hands on her hips and exclaimed, "We just got dead leaves. I wanted pompoms!" In the Message, we read "you've honored me with a festive parade." ( Psalm 92: 10b) Jennifer got her Parade. We who walk this earth would do well to remember that we are called to celebrate and claim the promises of Psalm 92.
God of the ages, of the young and old, we give thanks that you are with us in our darkest times. May we live out a faith that proclaims good news and, with the Psalmist, offer you honor and praise. Amen.