Bread – Unknown

October 27, 2014


Readings for Monday, October 27, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 11:1-14; Luke 11:14-26; Psalms 41,44,52

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Sometimes calamity falls upon us and we know not why. Oh, we know we sin, sometimes grievously, despite our best efforts and despite our desire to please God. And we know that our worship is not what it could be or should be, given our rescue by Jesus from eternal death. But, we have Jesus Christ as our Savior, and for that reason alone we know that we are accepted by God the Father, in spite of the filthy rags of our sin. So, why does calamity befall us? Is it because He is displeased, because we have done something wrong, because the rituals have not been properly performed, because we don’t have an “attitude of gratitude.”

Our reading from Psalm 44 today addresses this question. An excerpt: “O God, we have heard with our ears…what deeds You performed in their days…You are my King, O God;…for not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But You have saved us from our foes…we will give thanks to Your name forever. But You have rejected us and disgraced us…You have made us like sheep for slaughter…All this has come upon us , though we have not forgotten You, and we have not been false to Your covenant. .. Awake! Why are You sleeping, O Lord?…Why do You hide Your face? … Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of Your steadfast love!” Ps. 44:1-26

Psalm 44 reports that they were doing everything right – they remembered God, they followed God, they honored God, they listened to God, they gave thanks to God, they trusted in God rather than themselves. And, in spite of all this, calamity falls upon them and they know not why. The Psalm ends with a please, “Rise up; come to our help!” And yet there is no evidence in this Psalm that help ever came.

From our childhood, we remember asking questions of our parents and finally eliciting from them the answer to end all questions – “because.”

Calamity befalls us and we pray to God, “why, why, why.” And there is no answer, there is no response. There is silence. At this time, we must either conclude that God is remote, is gone, does not care, or conclude that He has His purposes which are unknown to us because we are not Him. In the first instance, we demand to be God and to know what is going on. In the second instance, knowing that we are not God, we must increase our faith, because there is no rational reason upon which we may stand. And who knows, maybe increasing our faith is the whole point.

But we do know this – we are not in the same boat as the Psalmist. He ends Psalm 44 with this plea: “Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!” Ps. 44:26b

We do not need to end our prayers this way because Jesus has redeemed us by His death on the cross; He has paid the price we could not pay for our sins. Jesus was sent to earth by God the Father out of His steadfast love for us, redeeming us with His life. So we do not need to ask God to redeem us from our circumstances because, for those whose faith is in Jesus Christ, we have been redeemed for eternity.

We have been redeemed from certain death into certain life, not because of who we are but because of who He is.

The Psalmist wanted to be redeemed from his dire circumstances, from all of the calamities which had befallen him and the nation Israel. In spite of the calamities which fall upon us, from war to sickness to poverty to homelessness to pain and loss, we have been brought out of the calamity of life and placed in the kingdom of God.

There are really two unknowns here. The first is why we can believe, worship, act, and speak from the best motives and hard things, calamities, still strike us. The second unknown is why God would have such love for us that He has redeemed us, in spite of ourselves. Of course we know the answer … because.

We didn’t like that answer as children and we like it even less as adults. But it is the answer … God knows because He is God; we don’t know because we are not. The unknown of God remains a mystery to us, and it will remain a mystery. However, we know that Jesus was born, died, resurrected from the dead, ascended into heaven. Why? To save His people. Why? Because God loves us. Why? Because.

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© 2014 GBF

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