Pastors, every week we are given an opportunity to share our hearts with our people. Every week we are called to show our people where God has been moving and what God has been up to in our lives and the lives of those around us. The psalm for this week gives us an opportunity to do this in a way that we might not always take advantage of. Psalm 130 invites us to be vulnerable with our congregations.
Psalm 130 reminds us that we have all been to the depths, the pits, that low place where all, or at least most, feels hopeless. A few years ago, when I was first called to the church where I currently pastor, I used this psalm as my sermon text. I used it so that the congregation could get to know a bit about me, where I’ve been, and the goodness of the Lord. I did this in hopes that it would spark in their own minds a memory of where they’ve been. Maybe it’ll help to remind your congregation where they’ve been and to recall the hope that they have.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.” We have all made pleas such as this one that the psalmist is making. In my life, I think back to the days when my depression almost overtook me, when it felt like I was out in the depths of the sea drowning and crying out to God for help. The depths, or the sea, in the Hebraic mindset represented chaos. Take a moment to think of creation, the Spirit hovered over the chaos, the depths of the sea. When was a time in your life that you felt like you were out to sea and drowning? When is a time that you cried out to God “Lord, have mercy!”
“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” What a beautiful verse to follow our pleas for mercy. It’s a reminder that God has not cast us out to see, that even though we feel in the midst of chaos, we will be rescued. Somehow, some way. What is tossed out to sea, though? Our sins! The record of our sins is cast out to the seas where they drown and are remembered no more! Often times we feel that we have sometimes done something to deserve to be drowning in the chaos. That simply isn’t true. God loves us. God is throwing our sins out, not us. So although we are currently in the midst of chaos, we have hope. It is through that hope that we can serve God to the best of our abilities even if that’s simply treading water for dear life.
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Hold on for dear life and hope in the saving mercy of our Lord and God. Sometimes that’s all we can do. It is enough to hold on to the hope of God. I remember my own dark days, the days when I truly thought the waves of chaos would overtake me. I had nothing. Nothing except the hope that God would somehow redeem it. I could do nothing but wait. I would be doing a disservice if I did not mention how hard it is. It is hard to wait. It is difficult to be in the midst of the depths feeling isolated and alone. The hope we have in God is our lifeline, though. Pastors, maybe our congregations need to hear that it’s okay to not have the chaos and depths fixed right away. Maybe they just need to hear that even though it currently is unpleasant and difficult to hold on hope. God will rescue us. God is with us. We are not alone in the chaos. We are not out to sea without a hope. We need just keep our eyes open.
“Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” What an ending to this psalm! We have been in the depths of chaos, we have held on to our lifeline of hope, we have watched and waited to see how God would rescue us, and here we see that the Lord’s unfailing love has redeemed us, is redeeming us, and will redeem us! Thanks be to God. Pastors, if you take this opportunity to be vulnerable with your people you will be able to share a part of your own redemption story. You can give them a tangible example of how God has redeemed. In my life, God saved me from the depths of my depression and has helped me hope a life-giving hope in God. How has God redeemed your chaos? Or how has God redeemed the chaos in your church? This week is a perfect time to remind your people where they have been, where they are, and where they are going.
Pastor, Cape Elizabeth Church of the Nazarene