Friday, September 5, 2008
August 24, 2008 Proper 16 Psalm 42
As a deer pants upon the water brooks, so my soul pants to you, God. My soul thirsts to God, to the living God; when will I come and appear (at) the face of God? My tears, to me, my bread, days and nights; in their saying to me all the day, "Where is your God?" These things I remember and I pour out in me, my soul; for I had gone through in the crowd; I went slowly to the house of God. In a voice of joy and thanksgiving; a multitude keeping the festival. Why are you bowed low, my soul; and do you groan in me? Wait upon God; for still I will thank Him, Savior of my face. My God, in me, my soul is bowed low, therefore I remember You from the land of Jordan and the Hermans, from mount Mitzar. Floods to floods cry out to the sound of Your canals; all Your breakers and Your waves over me have passed. Daily Yahweh will command his loving-kindness; and in the night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God, my Rock, "Why do You forget me? Why do I mourn, in the oppression of an enemy do I wail? In a breaking in my bones my oppressors scorn me;
Have you ever been in a situation where it seemed like all the cards were stacked against you? ...a time when nothing was going right, and you began to question whether or not God was even anywhere to be found for help? Perhaps there have been occasions when it appeared to you that even the gates of hell had been stacked up against you. At such times we are tempted to want to give up on God, since we have the impression that He might have given up on us.
Yet we don't give up on God, since we know that Jesus hasn't abandoned us. We remember as the Psalmist says, that He is God our Rock. Then we go to Him in prayer with the honest question, "Have you forgotten about me God?". His answer is, "Of course not, I remember you in my Son Jesus, for He is the foundation Rock upon which you are built. In Him you remain steady & sturdy, no matter what flood waters & waves may try to topple you over. For Jesus is my loving-kindness to you."
We may find ourselves tempted to disbelieve that Jesus is our Rock. Some foolishly thought that Jesus words to Peter (whose name means *stone*) indicated that this disciple is the first Pope and a rock upon which the church should be built. But the church cannot be built on a petros, or small stone like St. Peter. Upon such an unstable human footing, it would surely crumble. It must be built on the petra or bedrock foundation who is none other than Christ Jesus, our Savior.
We may also fall into the trap of thinking that the foundation of our faith is Peter's words alone. His words make a good confession, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. But that confession alone cannot be the foundation stone upon which God's church is built. For a confession of faith is only as solid as the One Who is confessed. Your faith is only as reliable as the one you believe *in*. That one can only be the Savior of your face, and your God, Christ Jesus.
Still, we get worried and apprehensive, especially when Jesus doesn't act to rescue us from our present predicament as quickly as we would like. So we hastily begin to take over for God, trying to right our own ship in the midst of the current storm. But we find that we just make matters worse. That's when we learn the hard way to simply wait upon the Lord, because the opportunity will soon come to thank Him, when He indeed does act to save you from the current calamity.
You can trust God to deliver you from your temporary woes because He has already rescued you from your eternal pains. In Holy Baptism, Jesus has delivered you from death & the devil and given you eternal salvation, as the words & promises of God declare. Your victory in Christ is assured at the cross of Calvary where He defeated the devil, death & hell once and for all. That is why the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church of Christ Jesus, your Champion forevermore.
You can trust God to forgive you your current failings since He proclaims your sins forgiven, again and again in His Gospel word. This word is the Key which opens the doors of heaven, setting you free from your sins here on earth that eternal life be always opened to you by God's grace. Whenever your heart is heavy and you go to your pastor, He absolves you of all your sins, and by it your sins are forgiven, as surely and certainly as if Jesus were telling you face to face, Himself.
You can trust God to feed you better bread than your tears. For in addition to your daily bread, Jesus gives Himself to you in the bread & wine for the forgiveness of your sins in the Lord's Supper. Amen.