Toorak Uniting Church

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Life with God

Psalm 30
Rev. Anneke Oppewal
4 July 2004, 8:00am

Psalm 30 is a psalm of thanksgiving.
A psalm written by somebody that has been in deep trouble and has pulled through because of God’s presence.
Not that it always felt that way, verse 7 testifies to that.

We all go through periods like that. Dead periods, difficult periods in our lives where we may feel that we have been deserted by God and men. When life is tough and there seems to be little prospect of things getting better.

The person writing in the psalm knows all about it and he sings about it in a beautiful, well balanced and incredibly moving way.

Lets listen to him (or her for that matter):

1 I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have lifted me up and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

(we may read anything that threatens our life for enemies, they don’t have to be, when we speak in biblical terms, physical).

2-3 O Lord my God, I cried out to you, and you restored me to health, you brought me up from the dead; you restored my life as I was going down the grave.

Again: dead can well be meant metaphorically here, it doesn’t mean that the person had an actual near death experience, it only means that he feels he’s been very close to a stage where there was no hope left, where all life was drawing away from him.

Perhaps for a moment we can reflect on those first three verses that form the introduction to our psalm: Reflect on the things we are grateful to God for in our lives. Reflect on the times when we perhaps have felt that all that made life worth living had been taken away. Moments in our lives where there seemed no way out, where despair was deep and salvation felt far far off………
Did you have the feeling that God was in there with you? That he had something to do with bringing you back, restoring you to health, nursing you back to wholeness?
Or not?

It certainly is the experience of the psalmist that God has everything to do with bringing him back from the brink of death.

5-6 Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning,
His wrath endures but a twinkling of an eye, his favour a life time.

Darkness may descend on us, again in a figurative or in a more literal sense, but morning will dawn. We may feel God’s anger at times, or think we feel it, but we may know that his love is much stronger than his wrath and endures a whole lot longer says the psalmist.

It is Easter that shimmers through here, the story of the resurrection. A resurrection that did not take place once, but is taking place time and again, in our lives and that of others, because God will always bring morning after night. Whatever the night, however deep the darkness, God’s love an light will break it and bring us back from the darkness.

7-8 Then you hid your face, and I was filled with fear.
I cried to you, O Lord; I pleaded with the Lord…..

Most of us will know the experience of losing faith, of losing God, of feeling abandoned and insecure. According to the mystics it is part of faith. And the deeper the faith the deeper the despair when somehow, even for a short time, we lose contact with God. When somehow the relationship breaks up, because of us or because of circumstances that come between us and God. It is a frightening experience, something that can fill us with dread.

The psalmist has gone through such an experience and has bargained his way through it: Come on God, if I’m in hell you don’t benefit do you?
A way of thinking that may be strange to us, but is, in scripture quite common. God needs the relationship as much as we do. God wants our praise, our love, our attachment as much as we do his. It is an equal relationship and when one half suffers from the break down of that relation for one reason or another it is only logical to conclude that the other half does too. God suffers when we suffer. God misses us when we miss him. God is looking for us while we are looking for him. A very strong and moving concept I think, and a bit scary too because it makes us responsible. Responsible for a good relationship with God.

10 Lord have mercy, Lord be my helper.

Without God we are nothing. When we are in the pits we need his mercy, his light to pull us through. And only in deep deep trouble do we really realise how dependent we are, and how important it is that when all else fails God is there to help us.

But God is. And again the psalm bursts out in shouts of praise:

11-12 You have turned my wailing into dancing; you clothed me with joy. And my heart sings.

Let us spend some time thinking about those last two verses. About the dancing and the joy and see what it means to us. Where we feel there is dancing in our lives and joy. Where the light shines and the love is abundant. Where there is reason to sing and be grateful.

© Rev. Anneke Oppewal, 2004

Comments or suggestions on this page appreciated by email, Thanks.