Psalm 116:1-6 (the message)
I love God because he listened to me,
listened as I begged for mercy.
He listened so intently
as I laid out my case before him.
Death stared me in the face,
hell was hard on my heels.
Up against it, I didn’t know which way to turn;
then I called out to God for help:
“Please, God!” I cried out.
“Save my life!”
God is gracious — it is he who makes things right,
our most compassionate God.
God takes the side of the helpless;
when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.
These are powerful verses. They speak of a rescue. If you have ever truly been at the end of your rope then you can relate to the author…crying out to God…that most powerful and simple of prayers: “Please God! Save my life!”
What speaks to my heart, especially, this morning is this: “God is gracious — it is he who makes things right, our most compassionate God.” Have you ever been in a tough situation and you kept working to make it right but never saw results? Have you ever been hanging on at the end of your proverbial rope and grasping at every possible solution to your problem without a successful outcome? We go to friends and loved ones and Dr. Phil. We listen to our coworkers and virtual strangers hoping they will have the answers we need. Sometimes, we are just so doggedly determined that we miss the opportunity to let God make things right. The verse above says God is gracious, meaning God is full of grace. Grace, as I remember from childhood, can be described as “unmerited favor.” So what does unmerited favor mean? In the words of this ordinary girl: undeserved partiality. Did you realize God is partial to you? To intervening in your circumstances even though you don’t deserve it? Grace is never about what we deserve. (I highly recommend a book called “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” by Philip Yancey. It helped me tremendously!) So, God is not taking inventory of your life on a merit scale to determine if He will help you; if that were the case we all would be finished. When we even begin to grasp what God’s grace really means it will change our lives, our hearts, our marriages, our entire focus and devotion to God can transpose from a duty to a love affair.
Not only is God full of Grace, but He is also “our most compassionate God.” Compassion. Just take a moment to think over what it means to you. For me, compassion is when my heart is touched and stirred on behalf of another. I don’t mean pity. We can easily pity the starving children in third-world countries but never be moved to help them. Compassion moves us to reach out. Compassion involves such a deep connection and understanding for another’s plight that we take action. Now, realize that God is most compassionate. More compassionate than your apple-pie baking grandmother. More compassionate than the SPCA or the late Mother Theresa. He is so compassionate, was so moved to action on our behalf, that He took up residence in a human body and suffered our penance. Jesus, in His amazing compassion and bewildering grace, has settled our sin-debt for all time. We just believe and accept the truth and then follow after Him. What Jesus has done is so much more than a nice Sunday-School lesson on the flannel graph board of our childhoods. He is so much more than the offertory special or the liturgical reading. Jesus will not be contained or represented on a protest sign or the best of best-sellers. He will not be nicely settled into our comfortable “religion compartment” that we have set aside for Sundays. How could the Creator of all we see, hear, touch and taste be contained? We cannot measure Him…define Him…manipulate Him…ignore Him…or even refuse Him. Our God is The Great I-Am! Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. We may scramble and scrape as mere humans to discover the truth of God but it confronts us daily as we wake up with breath in our lungs. Every day that giant fireball rises in the sky and the wind blows…He whispers to our spirits… “I AM…I AM…I AM.”
If this Psalm is for you…if you are hanging on to that last thread, have listened to all the advice you can take, have read the self-help books, have cried your eyes dry and have attempted to control and manipulate circumstances to bring about change…hear this: God is Great. He is the same God that parted the Red Sea, that multiplied the fish and loaves, that called a dead Lazarus from the grave. He is the same God who knew you before you were thought of and walked the earth He created, humbled Himself to death on a cross, all for love.
Moved by great compassion and working through Amazing Grace, Jesus stands ready to intervene. Can you hear Him…asking you to let go of that rope and take His hand?
It is God who makes things right.