GET CONNECTED with our CHURCH FAMILY … responding to human need

Tuesday, March 26

Psalm 91 (NRSV)
You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the hunter
and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and defense.
You will not fear the terror of the night
or the arrow that flies by day
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness
or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

We have learned much about hospitality during this Lenten season and what might have first appeared to be a rather simplistic topic has taken on a much deeper meaning for me, as I hope it has for you. The first reading of Psalm 91 provides a powerful testimony to the security of those who believe in God—but where is the connection with hospitality? I have come to realize that ultimately hospitality is the expression of love from one human being to another.

I have a dear friend who is ministering to a man he has known for over twenty years, and who is currently suffering from an aggressive form of cancer. So aggressive in fact that all other treatments have been exhausted and there is but one option left for him to consider. Although the procedure can be successful, there are no guarantees and the treatment alone can have serious consequences, even death. The cancer patient is already suffering excruciating pain and has expressed thoughts like, “I have lived a full life and perhaps this is the end for me.” He lives alone and has no immediate family other than my friend and his wife, who have accepted him as part of their family—with love. They hear the desperation and pain in his voice and they are deeply concerned, praying hard.

My friend is a man of deep faith and an inspiration for me, so when he told me that he had given the cancer patient a copy of Psalm 91 that alone was not particularly surprising to me. But when he told me that his friend (a Jew, by the way) had read it multiple times and found comfort and strength in those words, such that he had completely reversed his decision and decided to proceed with the treatment! To say that he has taken Psalm 91 to heart is an understatement. As he begins his treatment later this month he will surely carry those words (along with our prayers) with him.

Psalm 91 has also taken on new meaning for me, and I ask you to read that scripture again (particularly verses 3-6) through the eyes of a cancer patient alone in the darkness contemplating the end of his life. And I also ask you to give thanks for my friend who has demonstrated the ultimate hospitality—his love for his friend.

Heavenly father, we give you thanks and praise for the bold assurance of your love for us. May we endeavor to please you by expressing that love to others. Amen.

Charlie Mendenhall