Lenten Scripture Reflection | Friday: Psalm 17; Lamentations 2.1-22; 1 John 4

From: Mark Booker

The final two verses of Ps 17 confront us with a contrast between those "whose portion is in this life" and the psalmist who "shall behold your [God's] face in righteousness" and who shall be "satisfied with your [God's] likeness." Is our portion in God (see Ps 16.5) or in this life (i.e. in the things of the world)? In many ways this is the driving question for Lent. Who or what is our portion?

To make that which is fading, temporal, and fleeting our portion — even if we gain so much of what this life has to offer — is to be left unsatisfied. Oddly, we work so hard for this portion. But to make God our portion - the God who is eternal, unchanging, wholly  good, and radically for us in Christ — satisfies ultimately. Oddly again, we often do so little to enjoy, revel in, and be present to God, to behold his face as the psalmist says.

In the 17 century, Blaise Pascal describes the folly of our misguided pursuit for life in this way: "This [our craving for happiness/satisfaction/rest - for life] he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself. God alone is man's true good, and since man abandoned him it is a strange fact that nothing in nature has been found to take his place." (Pensees, X.148, p.45 in Penguin Classics edition, 1966/1995). 

Most of us agree with Pascal, but it's so easy to get pulled back in to the way of folly. Enter Lent and the renewal of practices, i.e. spiritual disciplines, such as reading Scripture, praying, fasting, giving alms, and prioritizing relationships in which we can remove our masks. Most of us feel like we fail at these practices, but let's not give up! All these practices, emphasized in Lent but important throughout the year, are meant to help us behold God's face, to be satisfied with his likeness, to rest in the triune God who is our portion. This is true life, true rest, true satisfaction.