Bread – Disease

August 17, 2016

Psalm 31

I will rejoice and be glad in Your steadfast love, because You have seen my affliction; You have known the distress of my soul…Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.  For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.” Ps. 31:7,9-10

A child has a form of strep infection which causes their skin to slough off, and requires treatment as if they had been burned.  Another child develops an infection in his bone.  A young adult dies at 39 from some kind of a stroke; another dies from a drug overdose; another dies from suicide, for some reason giving up on themselves and us.   An older adult finds out that they have a particularly aggressive kind of cancer.  Another is told that they need to start taking pain medications so that, as they die, they will not hurt so bad.  Another is attacked by shingles, another by pneumonia, another by some new bacteria or virus floating in the air.  And then there are those of us whose self is disappearing in the arms of Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia.

Disease is around us and in us.  Some of it is curable, at least to some degree, and other is not, at least by modern medicine.  To some are granted the miracle of recovery and to others, not.

David, our Psalmist, talks about some kind of disease which has overtaken him.  Whether it is the disease of depression, the disease of cancer, the disease of heartache, the disease of fear, the disease of the heart or of the bone or of the eye or the ear, we do not know.  Whatever it is, it is causing him great sorrow and distress to the point that he is spending his years with sighing.  He is feeling sorry for himself and that is OK, because he is sick, he is diseased, he is hurting, and he cannot figure a way out.

But there is a deeper disease, affecting all of mankind, and David acknowledges this in this phrase – “my strength fails because of my iniquity.”  The Hebrew word “iniquity” here means depravity; it is sin.   “My strength fails because of my sinfulness, because I am full of sin.”

We know this from the entirety of Scripture.  All were cast down from perfection by Adam’s disobedience; all are full of iniquity (sin), all fall short.  We are all filled with the disease of exile from Eden, and with the disease caused by our own disobedience to God and caused by the brokenness of the world, caused by disobedience to God.

So, when we are diseased and are suffering and God appears to do nothing about it, should we be mad at Him, particularly when we claim to follow Him, believe in Him, trust in Him, live in Him?  If we are loyal to God by attending church and praying and worshiping and reading His Word, shouldn’t we be blessed with protection from disease?  Shouldn’t we be able to summon up a miracle on demand?

David knows better and so do we.  David is rejoicing because he knows that God knows his suffering, He knows “the distress of my soul.”  And David says the only thing he, and we can say, “Be gracious to me, O Lord.”  We tend to think of being gracious as being nice.  It is not being nice – being gracious is being merciful.  Our disease is the natural result of the state within which exists because of Adam and because of us.  God has no obligation to us.  We cannot earn His good pleasure, His mercy, His graciousness.  It is only mercy because it is freely given, in God’s sovereignty, when He wants and for the purpose He intends.

If you think about it, the biggest disease we suffer is our own belief that we deserve something, when we in fact deserve nothing.  All is a gift of God, a gracious act by Him.  If we are rich, it is God’s gift to us.  If we are powerful, it is because God has set us in this place.  If we are saved, it is because God has acted to save us.

You want to get rid of disease?  Kneel before the Lord, Your God.  Trust in Him.  Follow Him.  Obey Him.

And if we suffer from a medical condition, that suffering will not matter because it will fade into the glory of God’s presence in our lives.   His presence with us in suffering will be enough, because He is enough.

How is this possible?  Because we give up the me and the we … and follow the He.


© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.


Bread – Saltiness

April 29, 2013

Readings for Monday, April 29, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Col. 3:18-4:18; Luke 7:36-50; Psalms 56,57,58,64,65


I was commenting on something political on television this morning, giving my conservative running commentary on the liberal television press coverage. My wife told me to listen to myself, and I realized upon reflection that I was beginning to sound like those old men who do nothing but complain, who critique but provide no solutions, and who sound like the only thing we care about is making our intellectual points.

In my prayer time, I addressed this issue before God, being reminded by Him that, if we are to be His followers, we must speak in truth and love, well-balanced, with tongues which reflect glory to God and not ourselves.

And then, just to make sure the point is not lost, God gave me the Scripture we have assigned for today from 500+ years ago. In Colossians, Paul tells his readers – “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Col. 4:5-6

Gracious speech, seasoned with salt. Not salt seasoned with gracious speech.

The word “gracious” here is the Greek “charis,” meaning the kind of favor done without expectation of any benefit in return, a love of the person to whom you are speaking without condition.

Gracious speech, seasoned with salt. Loving speech, flavored with the truth.

Gracious speech is therefore the base, and the truth adds to its strength and power and does not subtract from it.

Who reading this has failed to add any salt to a dish, resulting in it being bland and unattractive? Who reading this has added too much salt to the dish, rendering it nasty and rejected?

Too little salt and there is nothing in gracious speech except pap and nonsense. Too much salt and gracious speech is made unacceptable in any form.

Why, then, do we turn from gracious speech seasoned with salt toward angry speech, overwhelmed with salt?

Perhaps it is related to what Jesus says today in Luke – “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Lk. 7:47

Maybe when our speech reaches toxic levels of salinity, we need to ask ourselves a question – have we been forgiven much or little? The man full of himself always thinks “little,” even if with his lips he says “much.” The man who knows himself, who knows that without Christ he is spiritually dead, will realize the foolishness of the question, because every sin is a great sin before God. It is only before man that sins take on proportions (so that my sin is always less than his). Therefore, we have all been forgiven much.

But if we have been forgiven much, where is the gracious speech seasoned with salt?


© 2013 GBF

*The Book of Common Prayer reading marked by the asterisk today is from Wisdom, which is a book of the Apocrypha. Since not all Christians recognize this collection of books as appropriate Scriptural reading, it is omitted.

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