O how abundant is your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear you, and accomplished for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of everyone! In the shelter of your presence you hide them from human plots; you hold them safe under your shelter from contentious tongues. Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was beset as a city under siege. I had said in my alarm, "I am driven far from your sight." But you heard my supplications when I cried to you for help. Love the Lord, all you his saints. The Lord preserves the faithful, but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.
Psalm 31: 19-24 (NRSV)
Serhiy Lohinov lives on Uktaine. It happened in Soviet Ukraine in 1978. Serhiy worked in the glass factory and lived in the workers' dormitory. One day Serhiy was injured at work and was recovering in his room. Suddenly the door was thrown open, and Serhiy was surrounded by militia officers. They started asking questions about his next-door neighbor, Nikolaj. It turned out that he had distributed anti-Soviet leaflets and then committed suicide in front of the railway station.
Nikolaj was a quiet and friendly man, and the news shocked Serhiy deeply. His death led Serhiy to think about the meaning of his life, and after a while he sank into a spiritual crisis. Knowing his anguish, God sent to the factory a young man who shared openly his faith in Christ. He helped Serhiy to find a church, where he decided to become a follower of Jesus.
That experience happened many years ago. Now Serhiy is happily married, and their children have found the same faith in Christ. Serhiy still remembers his good neighbor, Nikolaj, who could not see any hope for his life in this world. and Serhiy still remembers the young man who shared his faith with him and offered hope that changed his life. Through the grace of God, let's commit our lives to offering that same hope to our friends and neighbors.
Prayer: Dear God, lead us into your light, love, and eternal life, in Jesus' name, amen.