Psalm 39; Ezekiel 17:1-10; Romans 2:12-16
But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you. (Psalm 39)
The weary traveler walks headed into the storm. It is relentless in its battering. Every step forward is a struggle. To stay upright is an achievement. He catches his breath for a moment, hiding his face in his tattered overcoat. Turning away from the scorching wind he looks behind. There, a trail of dust. The traveler collapses. The weary dust is him! He is swept away.
The inspired poet muses: “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
But, it doesn’t take being inspired or particularly poetic to be able to associate. For, we know that the whole creation is groaning, right up to the present time! Groaning for meaning. Groaning for purpose. Groaning for contentment and fulfillment–in our own lives in this world, too.
What are you looking for? For me, it just might be the end!
To be honest about life in this wearying world can be a scary thing. Who likes to speak of the darknesses–whether they are “out there” or, worse, deep down within? Who likes to come to terms with the undeniable impermanence of it all?
We get outraged over the concept of planned obsolescence–no one likes the thought of having to by a new washer every 10 years. Maybe, however, what bothers us more is that there is no such thing as permanence, no matter how long the thing lasts.
We are shocked and terrorized by the human capacity for brutality we see on the news-feed, but maybe what bothers us more is the brutality we see coming from our own mouths and hands–less newsworthy, perhaps, but just as devastating to those we hurt.
It always bothered me as a child that ignorance of a law was no excuse for breaking it, but maybe what bothers me more is that even the laws I do know I still can’t keep with a pure heart. And many I just simply despise, as I love myself and choose sin.
Even the highest of this worlds highs always come crashing down. The house, it seems, always wins.
Is there a place for this kind of honesty within the church? At first glance, it may seem a defeatist, borderline nihilistic, and quite unappealing approach. I had a man ask me once, “Are you one of those ‘sad’ Lutherans?” (As opposed to what, I wondered.) I think he was referring to this.
What he didn’t understand, however, is that it’s not a matter of ‘sad’ or ‘happy’. It is a matter of honesty. Life in a sin-ruined world beats against us, we weary under the burden. Our own sin testifies against us; the burden of proof has been met. Not only is there a place for this honesty; it is a necessity.
We get to be honest about who we really are, and what this world is really like. Maybe the Season of Lent gives us a renewed opportunity for this honesty? But, not that we would be lost in meaninglessness!
Rather, that we find true meaning in the right place.
He, our Lord, has heard the groaning of His people: the prayers, the cries, the pleas. So, He sent hope in the person of His own Son, who fulfilled our need to be reconciled to the Father by becoming one with us in our flesh. He, our Lord, has groaned for His people: His prayers; His cries; His pleas. The permanent for the impermanent; brutalized for the brutal; condemned for the convict. The cross of His death is our life, now and forever!
We now know the end of it all! We are not lost to the wind nor reserved for judgment. We are redeemed. Life, His life has been granted to you.
So, we also know life in the meantime. What are you looking for? Meaning, purpose, contentment and fulfillment? All of these have been provided you in Christ! And all of them are found waiting in the lives of those around you, those whose needs Christ has given you to meet.
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