Thursday, April 3, 2014

Morning Psalm: 69 | Evening Psalm: 73
Exodus 1:6-22 | 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 | Mark 8:27—9:1
 
A common theme can be traced in all of today’s readings. The beginning of Exodus describes the new regime in Egypt as one which “appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor.” In Psalm 73 the writer laments, “For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning” (v. 14). In Mark 8 Jesus warns his disciples that the real life experience of anyone following Him is that he must “deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (v. 34). In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul says, “if one member suffers, all members suffer with it” (12:26). Even a cursory reading of Scripture reveals that suffering is the norm for the people of God, and we are no exception.
 
Yet we are so resistant to what is often called “the left hand of God,” the darkness and failure of our lives. We are embarrassed to acknowledge that life does not always play out as we had hoped. Our culture has conditioned us even to imagine that our failures are not really so bad, and our suffering must be concealed from a world which insists on the illusion of happiness and wholeness. At all costs we must be seen to be in control.
 
God does not want us to be in control. That is His prerogative. The two hands of God were also known as the “paschal mystery”: the cross and the crown, suffering and salvation, death and resurrection. Both are essential to the Christian life. How God works them together for our good is indeed beyond our understanding. After venting his anger and confusion about how “life isn’t fair,” the Psalmist concludes in verses 23-24 and 28, “Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel... “But for me it is good to be near God.” We suffer, yes; but we are not alone.
 
O Lord God, I praise and magnify Thy name that Thou hast set Thy seal upon my inmost being, not leaving me to my own poor and petty selfhood, but calling me to be an heir of Thine eternal Kingdom. I bless Thee for Thy hand upon my life, and for the sure knowledge that, however I may falter and fail, yet underneath are the everlasting arms. (From A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie)
 

  

Claire L. Megles
MDiv Student
Marianna, PA

    

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