Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Devotional for the Thirty-Fifth Day of Lent

I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord,
 who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
 he who keeps you will not slumber. 
He who keeps Israel 
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
 the Lord is your shade at your right hand. 
The sun shall not strike you by day,
 nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
 he will keep your life. The Lord will keep 
your going out and your coming in 
from this time on and for evermore. (Psalm 121)

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him . . . (John 9:24-28)

I was blessed to grow up in a home where I felt protected. When I was at home, I always felt safe. When I was out and about—playing with my friends, going to and from school—unpleasant things sometimes happened to me that caused me to feel unprotected and threatened. But I knew that home was around the corner, and once I arrived there, my fear and pain would diminish and I would find safety again.

The Psalmist sings of God’s great protection, and it is a beautiful word of comfort and hope. The ancient people of Israel would reflect on this psalm, as many would do in years to come, even in the midst of pain and suffering. The opening line is telling: The song begins by looking for help. The longing for God’s protection comes when protection is needed the most.

After Jesus healed the man who was born blind, the man’s day must have been spent trying to adjust to his new sense of vision and to try to make sense of all things he was seeing. He would drive his family and friends crazy asking them who was who, and what certain things were. There would be laughter and joy as everyone celebrated God’s goodness. But soon thereafter, trouble comes. The religious leaders are not happy with what Jesus is doing, and the formerly blind man is brought in for questioning. When they don’t get the answers they want, they treat the man abusively and kick him out.

Trusting in God doesn’t mean that we escape the evil and suffering that is characteristic of our world. But our trust is in the God who does not let those things have the last word in our lives. Even when circumstances lead to death, we can still trust God for the life that is yet to come. When sin and death are rendered toothless, we are able to live in the midst of pain as we trust the One who has conquered it all.

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