What would you say is the greatest problem that humanity faces? Is it the lingering effects of the pandemic? Race relations in the US? Greed of the upper class? Sexual confusion or aberration? Lack of respect for life, both at its inception as well as at its end? All of these are legitimate, grief inducing challenges for humanity, challenges that need to be seen and responded to through the lens of God's word. BUT they are not our greatest problem. Humanity's greatest problem, through the ages and across cultures, is that we as people cannot live up to the holiness of God. We cannot qualify as righteous in his sight outside of divine intervention. Our crisis, as the apostle puts it, is that we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:8,9), having failed to meet the standard for righteousness (Romans 3:23). This is the truth that binds humanity together, rich, poor, black, white, brown, young, old, no exceptions.
Which leads us to our greatest hope. God, who is rich in mercy, has provided a solution. God, who helps the helpless, has opened a door, provided a way. What we could never do on our own he has done through the work of Jesus. Our souls were dead, but through his finished work they can be revived! Reviving the soul, translated in the ESV as “give me life,” is specifically mentioned in eleven verses in Psalm 119, verses 25, 37, 40, 50, 88, 93, 107, 149, 154, 156, and 159. Understanding our need and God's provision will be our focus for this week.
What about all those other problems that we mentioned at the start of this reflection? They are real too. Do we just ignore them? Of course not, but we have to start at the beginning in order to make sense of our world.
For instance, I recently came across a quote that captures the very real, ongoing sense of loss and grief that many feel with respect to the pandemic. It is a powerful quote that caused me to remember that many in our CC community, as well as our greater GR community, are sharing this perspective: "Even if a person has survived the pandemic, people they love are dead, [life is] permanently altered, .... Now, staring down the oft-invoked 'return to normalcy,' I don’t know how to metabolize such a towering sense of collective grief, and one that’s infused practically everything I’ve ever known" (Molly Osberg). What I realized is that outside of God's word, outside of the greater story of life, death and soul revival I do not know how to offer hope to these deep wells of grief. Promise of a vaccine cannot match this grief. A "return to normalcy" sounds empty. But life in the Son, peace and purpose that is secured by our Creator, there is true hope. Of course there are practicalities that need to be navigated, but our hope is secure.