Lent Reflections @ CEC (3/22/20)
If you feel stuck, bring your whole self to Christ, not just the problem, but you. Ask God to change your heart. Commit yourself to pray to that end. It’s God’s heart to give good gifts to His children. Sheila Walsh
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Psalm 107, 1-3,17-22
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands,from east and west, from north and south.
Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.
Psalm 107 has long been one of my favorite Psalms. NT Wright opens his devotional on this Psalm by telling us to read it. Read the whole thing. It is a beautiful rhythm and movement in this Psalm that reminds us that God is both creator and rescuer. There is a pattern - things are going badly wrong - wandering in the desert, people in darkness, sick and dying, tossed about on the wild ocean. Then....they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. And after that, these words: Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. The pattern is repeated again and again.
This Psalm covers it all - situations we might see on the news, things that we legitimately have no control over, at work, in our family, but also sometimes due to our own choices - we find ourselves in desperate need of rescue. We need a rescuer and a Rescuer is exactly Who we find. But when we're struggling as a result of our own choices, we don't think we deserve to be rescued. Sometimes we look at others and think the same thing. Romans reminds us that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
This particular section, vs 17-22 says that God sent out His word and healed them. Oh, how we need the Word of God, the Savior in our lives. He is the healer, who heals not just physically, but spiritually, emotionally - drawing us to Himself. And we thank Him for it.
NT Wright says this: "The earliest Christians would have spotted, in verse 20, a clear anticipation of the message of John’s gospel. ‘He sent out his word and healed them.’ ‘Your all-powerful word leapt from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed,’ wrote the first-century Jewish sage (Wisdom 18.15). A mind steeped in John’s Prologue will pick up, of course, the reference to Jesus. But we should also see, in the strange interconnectedness of God’s grace, a reference to the healing, rescuing power of the word spoken or written: the word of witness or warning, of comfort or prayer, of challenge or encouragement. Words, after all, reach both heart and mind. And that, again and again, is where healing begins, with thanksgiving as its first fruit." (Wright, N. T.. Lent for Everyone: Mark, Year B (p. 90). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.)
Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.
In these recent days and weeks, we have become keenly aware of our lack of control and our utter dependence on our Savior. May we take today to remember that He is our Rescuer, our Redeemer, and let us think about all of His loving deeds for us.
The word that comes to mind is grace. The grace you show us even though we don't deserve it. We are humbled by Your love, and ever grateful for all of the loving ways You work in our lives, even the ways we don't understand. We ask for protection during these days, and that You would give wisdom to leaders in all areas. Give us wisdom as people who don't yet know Jesus may be asking more questions these days - help us to share You with them.