March 4, 2009

MARCH 4 – WORDS OF HOPE, NOT DESPAIR

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By Carl Helrich, professor of physics
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 22:23-31 (NRSV) Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL: We wait in faith. But we do not forget what we have known. And we do not forget what sorrows have brought us here.

Psalm 22 begins with the last words Jesus cried out on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We hear these as words of despair. But even in despair, the psalmist remembers what God has done and trusts in what will be done. Jesus knew this Psalm. He knew that the last verses contain the great promise of the Messianic age, the kingdom of God when we shall all praise, glorify and stand in awe of God. What Jesus cried out in his last breath would not then have been words of despair, but words of hope.

The promise is great. It is not only that God has rescued us from the trials of our days of waiting. The promise is of a new kingdom. The poor shall eat and be satisfied. We hear this again in the Gospel of John, where Jesus referred to himself as the bread of heaven. And it is the promise in Isaiah 55:1f. All the ends of the earth shall turn to the Lord. All dominion will be the Lord’s. We can praise God and know that God is enthroned in our praises.

This is our hope. Even as we recall the path that brought us here we have hope. We can even be grateful as we wait in faith.

———-

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 22:23-31 (NRSV)

You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live for ever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.

To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.

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Comments (10)

  1. Thanks for this timely reminder of Hope as I start the day. I’ve been reading “The Audacity of Hope” by Barack Obama. I pray that all people, especially our leaders, may see that our hope lies not in our stock portfolios but in Almighty God. May we be obedient and accept His grace.
    Shalom!
    Bill

    Bill Postma March 4, 2009 |
  2. I so appreciate the devotionals that the college faculty, staff and students provide at different periods of the year. Thank you. I appreciated today’s devotion on Psalm 22 that begins with the words from the cross which could be translated HELP….and concludes with words of encouragement and HOPE….. The Psalms are always timeless and inspirational.

    Rob March 4, 2009 |
  3. Thank you.

    Renee March 4, 2009 |
  4. Hi, and Thanks, Carl, and thanks Goshen. I needed this today.

    Fremont Regier March 4, 2009 |
  5. When my 14 week old granddaughter named Faith is still in neunatal intensive care perhaps requiring a high risk transplant, my faith is stretched; and yet there is hope in the midst of the stretch.

    Peter March 4, 2009 |
  6. Five weeks ago my seemingly healthy, extremely strong husband died in his sleep:
    I have uttered, screamed, wept, groaned these words of “despair” almost daily despite my faith we shall be reunited. I never connected them to their psalm of origin and find great comfort in your having done so, especially as I read in a new way the final words of Psalm 22. One of our future generation, a long-awaited grandson, would have been born the week before “Big Jim’s” death. I now see him holding that unborn baby in his huge (not quite Yao Ming) hand. Though too ridden with genetic problems to survive half a pregnancy, that child, too, was witness to our faith, and like our other grandchildren can be held in his PopPop’s single “paw” or close to his chest. I have been an avid Advent/Lent reader for years and so appreciate this wonderful daily devotion your school provides, but never more so than today! Energy is not destroyed once created, right? So our friend reminded our son, the baby’s father, from his walks when both taught at Princeton with absent-minded Al who always forgot his umbrella on rainy days. At 10, my son, now a chemical engineer, said, “That was Albert Einstein, wasn’t it, Dr. Piet?” and everafter was able to mesh his scientific and faith beliefs. That anecdote is for the scientist you!

    Vicki March 4, 2009 |
  7. Vicki–Thank you for sharing your story. What profound loss you are experiencing. Thank you for your courage and hope!

    Kathy March 4, 2009 |
  8. On Monday it started to rain and then to freeze, by Tuesday we were declaired a disaster zone. Some elderly folks trapped in their homes with frozen doors. I just returned home from the hospital with a lady who was without heat in her home for two days, we found her this morning and realized she had not eaten. SOme suffer more than others.

    THe sun on the frozen trees is beautiful and makes the world twinkle – God’s glory. At the same time in all this beauty there is sorrow. Life is about balance. The balance of the joy of helping others and the receiving help.

    The balance of too much and too little. We have 15,000 homes without power and more service trucks than we have ever seen. THe trucks are a sign of HOPE. We don’t know the drivers but people wave and say thank you – hospitality to strangers. THis is God’s responce!!!

    Vicki – your story takes courage to tell. God bless you. Pam

    Pam Harrison March 4, 2009 |
  9. You are the first gentile I have heard say that Jesus’ words were words of hope. I wonder if the Father turned away not because He couldn’t stand to look at sin but because He didn’t want to watch Jesus die? Was Jesus telling the people what was to come when He quoted that Psalm? I think maybe He was.

    Maria Thomas March 5, 2009 |
  10. The first three sentences of this devotional have meant more to me than you will ever know. Thank you.

    Mercy July 21, 2009 |