Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Human Plea for a Life that Endures

The big themes are all here: prosperity and loss, begging God for mercy, the questions we ask in the face of the incomprehensible abyss of death, and then salvation - a mysterious event happens, the Lord himself intervenes and changes everything: "You have turned my mourning into dancing..."

The text from Psalm 30 that I have been pondering a bit today covers the whole ground.

In the light of the Resurrection we can glimpse what a wonderful and definitive transformation has taken place in and through Jesus.

"Will the dust praise you?" We know the agony of these questions and how they touch the center of the drama of being human. Indeed, God calls each one of us and sows a mysterious promise in our hearts even "before" we call upon him. He has made us for himself, and our hearts are restless... our humanity is "already" stirred to seek the Source that draws it beyond itself, even if we have never thought of God.

We cannot make peace with simply turning to dust. Every human gesture is either a demand or a plea for "something more," for a life that endures. But all the graveyards of human history testify to the limits of the power of our demands.

What we seek does not come from our own power or any power we can construct from the elements of this world. "All is Vanity," said the book of Ecclesiastes in 500 b.c. ... and a tattoo on the forearm of a girl from 2014 - 2016 a.d.

There remains the plea. 

We who believe in the Resurrection know the immense goodness - beyond all imagining - of the God who answers that plea.

We know by faith, not by sight; we walk toward it and adhere to it in hope - a hope that holds onto God moment by moment, on every step of the journey, especially the moments and the steps that are the most obscure and the most frightening. And we love this God who has already given us a foretaste of his ineffable goodness, the goodness which God is, the One who is Absolute Love.

He will give himself to anyone who asks, who seeks, who does not close themselves off in delusions of self-sufficiency, but takes up personally, as their own, the plea of the human heart. He will not withold himself; indeed he has already given himself completely.

God is good. All the time.

I said in my prosperity,
"I shall never be moved."
By your favor, O Lord,
you had established me as a strong mountain;
[but when] you hid your face;
I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I cried,
and to the Lord I made supplication:
“What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?

"Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
O Lord, be my helper!"

You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

~Psalm 30:6-12