God our refuge, our god (4/19 message)
The Psalms are prayers. We can pray the psalms. They remind us that prayer is essential for our faith. It’s one thing to think about God, it’s another thing to relate to God in prayer. If we are honest in prayer we can come to the point of praying with holy gratitude in humble worship.
In Psalm 16, the center of the psalmist’s faith is deep trust in God. Every healthy relationship is based on trust. The stronger the trust, the stronger the relationship. The Psalmist deeply trusts. Jesus may have prayed this prayer leading up to and on the cross. That he arose is the fulfillment of this prayer. But let’s consider the prayer first on the lips of the one who wrote it.
Listen to the first 2 verses of Psalm 16: “Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge, You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” “. . .no good apart from you.”
The psalmist is confessing that everything good in life is a trust from God. There is no good outside of God. And God is nothing but good. Further, good is about everyone and everything in relationship to God whom the psalmist is convinced is good. Because of all this goodness, the psalmist is filled to overflowing with gratitude and satisfaction.
At the end of the psalm, we read, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit. You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
The psalmist trusts God alone and entrusts even the most feared, the most dreaded aspect of life—death—to God. The psalmist doesn’t understand all the details. Yet the psalmist trusts that this good God will take care of this dying saint. No need to fear when one trusts the One who is good, to be good.
And here we come back to Jesus praying on the cross. Jesus trusts his Father. He offers his life up to God in love and because of that love he does not fear death. Jesus knows that he belongs to God and believes that he will be raised, that his life cannot be lost but it will be gathered back to God and the Good News which will go on with his followers. He is raised and they too find courage to live and proclaim the Good News without fear.
Resurrection is what happens on the other side of deep trust in God. Resurrection is hope and new life. The life of Jesus goes on in his followers. They carry his Spirit, as they forgive, heal, and love with compassion and mercy.
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus blesses us who believe, who trust deeply—even though we have not seen what his disciples see, but we see with spiritual eyes of trust, giving ourselves in these days over to God, and God’s people all around us, for love.
The most important thing is that we give ourselves over to God in trust. In trust we receive from God, grace. Then in trust we practice that grace in our lives. God is good. We cannot escape the goodness of God. We cannot go to a place where God’s goodness is absent. Together we can ease the suffering. But that is only possible after we sit in the presence of God’s goodness. After that, we can be the hands and feet of God’s goodness by grace. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Roy Stetler Pastor, Quickel Evangelical Lutheran Church Zion View/York, Pennsylvania 717.350.5057