Advent 20: Psalm 38,39 & 2 Corinthians 4.7-18

From Tim Teal

The Psalmist, Paul, and perhaps you and I, are right on the edge of breaking in today’s readings.

“Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.” (38:3)

Sometimes I read the Bible, written thousands of years ago, and have trouble relating. Not so today. We all know what “unsound bones” feel like, don’t we? It is all too true that we feel emotional and spiritual turmoil physically.

“For I am about to fall…” (38:17) and we are “wasting away.” (2 Cor 4:16) All that, too.

The Psalmists cries for help go without an immediate answer, though he does seem to anticipate one. “I wait for you, you will answer, Lord my God.”

What’s strange is that at least some of this anguish is attributed to God Himself at times. “Because of you…”

And herein list the secret that God really does work all things together for the good of those who love him. God has a plan, for our eternal good, and for his eternal glory. Paul and the Psalmist know this: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” and “we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

If we set our hope on ourselves, and on the here and now, the burden can become overwhelmingly crushing. There is too much evil, too much suffering in the world, and I can barely find time to do laundry or pay bills. How on earth am I supposed to carry all of this alone? We are “mere phantoms.” (39:6).

Somehow we need to find faith to believe that God has this whole thing figured out, and that there is a Plan we can’t see, and that he will make it happen. Furthermore we need to believe that, whatever his design for our role to be in this whole thing, he will see us through it and give us the strength and power to do it. We certainly don’t have it within ourselves.

So I would encourage you, whenever you find yourself given over to what feels like death, then know, in the way of knowing that can only come through the certainty of faith, that the power of God that raised the dead can and will bring life to YOU. And in that knowledge, find the courage to act on God’s plan even when you don’t see any kind of light at the end of the tunnel. It is there.

I live in Brighton with my wife Jess. We were married this summer and are enjoying the beginning of this new season of our lives. Together we lead the Brighton/Allston Neighborhood group. I work as an engineer at a startup in Cambridge.