A SONG OF PRAISE IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Mark 14:26)
The hymn that traditionally closes the Passover Seder, and hence the hymn that Mark likely refers to in this passage, is Psalm 118. This hymn begins and ends with the words, "O Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!" (Psalm 118:1, 29). The psalm is an invitation to trust in God even in the face of enemies that would destroy. With the singing of these words, Jesus prepared himself and his disciples for what lay ahead.
Singing praise to God in the face of adversity is an act of defiance toward evil. It is also an act of trust in God, one that gives strength, peace, and hope. By singing praise to God in the face of hardship or even death, we are saying, "No matter what happens, not matter how bad things may be, I will trust in God to deliver me." As Jesus approached his death, he sang a hymn of praise to God.
Jay was a man about my age, and he had been battling cancer. He had been released from the hospital recently, and it was becoming clear that treatment would not be successful. Because he was weak from both the cancer and the treatment, I was utterly astounded when I saw Jay walk into worship on Sunday morning. It was Easter, and Jay was not going to miss Easter worship. That was the last time he came to church. Several weeks later, he died. But I will never forget the image of Jay singing, praising God, and being surrounded by his church family on that day.
As Jesus approached his own death, he sang a hymn with his disciples. Take a moment to read the words of the hymn Jesus probably sang that night, and then reflect on what those words would have meant to Jesus at the time. Read Psalm 118.
Lord, I give thanks to you; for you are good, and your love endures forever. Help me, even in the face of adversity, to sing your praise and to trust in you. Amen.