February 19 – Our Penitential Cry

Can you imagine what must have gone through Abraham’s mind when at ninety-nine years old God changed his name from Abram and reminded him that he would be the ancestor of a multitude of nations? At that point, following God had already led Abraham on some pretty exciting adventures! From uprooting his home and moving to a foreign country to rescuing his nephew from captivity, I think it is safe to say that there were not a lot of dull moments in Abraham’s life.

Abraham had not always followed God in exactly the way that God intended, but he was still chosen by God to be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. God promised that it would be so. As a near centenarian, it could have been very difficult for Abraham to trust in God to keep that promise. But, of course, God brought it to pass in his perfect timing.

It is easy to read Bible stories from so long ago and forget that the God who chose Abraham and Sarah for a specific purpose is the same God who has chosen each of us and has a plan for our lives. He has called us and individually given us the abilities and means to spread his message of love to the world.

Sometimes it is difficult to feel like God has a plan. He seems distant or silent. Sometimes it feels like he is moving too slowly or leaving us to our own devices. Sometimes we fall short of letting him have our complete trust. But he never forgets that he has chosen us. He never gives up on his plan for us.

During Lent, we take time to refocus our minds, to reaffirm our dependence on God, and to recognize God’s guiding hand. With Jesus as our example, we come before God fully surrendered to his will.

This Sunday, as you listen to the offertory music, I invite you to make the lyrics to the song below your prayer as you remember that Christ continued to follow God’s plan even through pain and suffering, and now he helps us as we seek to do the same.

Hear Our Penitential Cry
Lyrics by Robert Grant, 1779-1838

Savior, when in dust to you
Low we bow in homage due;
When, repentant, to the skies
Scarce we lift our weeping eyes;
Oh, by all your pains and woe
Suffered once for us below,
Bending from your throne on high,
Hear our penitential cry!

By your helpless infant years,
By your life of want and tears,
By your days of deep distress
In the savage wilderness,
By the dread, mysterious hour
Of the insulting tempter’s power,
Turn, oh, turn a favoring eye;
Hear our penitential cry!

By you hour of dire despair,
By you agony of prayer,
By the cross, the nail, the thorn,
Piercing spear, and torturing scorn,
By the gloom that veiled the skies
O’er the dreadful sacrifice,
Listen to our humble sigh;
Hear our penitential cry!

By your deep expiring groan,
By the sad sepulchral stone,
By the vault whose dark abode
Held in vain the rising God,
Oh, from earth to heaven restored,
Mighty, reascended Lord,
Bending from your throne on high,
Hear our penitential cry!

– Shelton