Today's Reflection is on Psalm 130 (New Living Translation)
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
1 From the depths of despair, O Lord,
I call for your help.
2 Hear my cry, O Lord.
Pay attention to my prayer.
3 Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?
4 But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you.
5 I am counting on the Lord;
yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
6 I long for the Lord
more than sentries long for the dawn,
yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord;
for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
His redemption overflows.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from every kind of sin.
I really struggled as to how to write this reflection, since this year I have struggled at keeping up with my Lenten disciplines. Then I realised that this is what this Psalm is all about – God’s mercy and hope being based on God’s love rather than our actions. The author of the Psalm is in deep distress, crying out to God in despair. They wonder how their life can ever match up with God’s standards, how inevitable their sinning is. We’ve all felt like that at one time or another – feeling like we’ll never match up to such a high standard, always having to strive to be perfect.
Yet, look at the author’s reaction in the second half of the Psalm – they are counting on God’s forgiveness and mercy, and God’s word, not on God suddenly making them perfect! So often we ask God to make us some kind of invincibly holy Super Christian because of how helpless we feel, with the best holiest most Christian lifestyle – the soundest conferences, the best festivals, the most dramatic testimonies, the latest books. We lose sight of the fact that it’s not what God really wants of us. God wants us to have the inner strength to let ourselves be vulnerable so God can give us hope, since it is in our most fragile times that we value God’s power the most.
Verse seven says how with God there is unfailing love, redemption overflows. This abundance is all God’s work, not ours. God will redeem Israel aka God’s people from all sin – not our actions, or the lack of them. This isn’t to say that things like fasting or special prayers for times like Lent aren’t good or helpful things, but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over them. They should be helpful, not scary rules. The overarching theme of Psalm 130 is hope in God and God’s redemption and that a heart that longs for God is worth far more than worrying about perfection.
Mighty One of Israel; we thank You for Your love that never fails and Your mercy that gives us hope, even in the desert time of Lent. We pray that we will put our hope in You alone and that you will help us be brave enough to be vulnerable before You, as we look towards Easter and Christ’s human frailty and divine victory over death and all sin. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.