Archive for January, 2020

"Deliver me, Lord, even from #FirstWorldProblems": Psalm 119:169-70

January 7, 2020

Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
    give me understanding according to your word!
Let my plea come before you;
    deliver me according to your word.
Psalm 119:169-170

When I read Psalm 119 and the psalmist’s many cries for deliverance or rescue, I think, “My problems aren’t nearly so large as his. How can my #FirstWorldProblems compare? Why should I even bother to pray about this?”

But I refuse to think of it that way anymore. For one thing, when you’re in the first world, #FirstWorldProblems are still problems. Even more, while the psalmist appeals for vindication over his enemy, we don’t know precisely what kind of enemy he was facing. But I know well enough the Enemy that I face, and he’s resourceful: he’s more than happy to use even #FirstWorldProblems if they will rob me of my joy, disrupt my peace, kindle my anger, and harm my witness, which they do… often.

My point is, I need help. I need rescue. I need deliverance—no less than the author of this psalm. Yet I don’t pray for deliverance with the same urgency, or the same volume, that the psalmist does when he “cries out” and “pleads.”

Why?

Lord, give me the grace to change. Give me the faith to believe that my “cries” will reach you, and you’ll give me victory. Amen. #esvjournalingbible #biblejournaling

"Every moment of 2019 served your deepest needs"

January 1, 2020

For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. 1 Corinthians 3:21b-23

More than a few friends and acquaintances on social media have said, in so many words, “good riddance” to 2019. I sympathize. Objectively speaking, it was hardly a stroll through the park for me and my family, too. Yet on the cusp of this new year, I am confident that this past year has accomplished precisely what God intended for it to accomplish: all of its challenges, disappointments, pain, and apparent setbacks—not to mention the many joyful moments and outright victories.

How could it be any other way?

In the verses above, Paul challenges the Corinthians to change their thinking about their pastoral leaders. These church members had been feeling proud because of their allegiances to different leaders: “each one of you says, ‘I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas.'”

“But you don’t get it,” Paul says. “It’s not that you belong to this or that leader; it’s that he belongs to you. He is your servant—and so is everything else in this universe! They all belong to you—because, in Christ, God is using them to serve you and your interests!”

One thing this surely means is that the year 2019 also belonged to us entirely: nothing of value was lost or wasted; every moment served our interests; God redeemed (or is redeeming) every moment. They were all for our ultimate good, as we will see in this world or the next.

To paraphrase John Newton: “We needed everything that God sent us in 2019; we didn’t need anything that he withheld.”

So thank you, Lord. #biblejournaling #esvjournalingbible