Over the last week or so I’ve been thinking a lot about the end of Psalm 66. The psalmist says there:
Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me.
Basically, what is happening here is that the psalmist has prayed to God; God heard his prayer; and now he wants people to know about it. He is inviting everyone who fears God, who trusts in God, to come and hear what he’s got to say: Let me tell you what God has done for my soul! He has heard my prayer!
And there is a beautiful simplicity to this. The psalmist is just blown away that God listens to him. He is beside himself that God cares, and hears, and does things on his behalf. It is remarkable to him that God has given him what he asked.
And my question is: Are we like this?
See, I think that if we are really honest, what sticks with us and feels remarkable are not the times when we pray and God hears us, but the times when we pray and God doesn’t. Because that is the thing we continue to feel. We feel the gap of the things God has not given more than the abundance of the things that God has given. And I want to clear, it is right and good and necessary to remember the gap, and to share about the gap. We want that and need that. This church is a safe place for that. And at the same time, What has God done for our souls? What has God done for your soul?
This church is safe place to brag on Jesus. And we need more of it. And I mean before anyone even asks you how you are doing. Nobody greeted the psalmist here and asked how he’s doing. He just says: Come here, everybody, let me tell you about what our God has done! We should do the same. [Sound good?]
Okay, well, while you are there, and I’m here. I will tell what God what has done for my soul.
One of our children has had some breathing issues, and a handful of the symptoms are consistent with Cystic Fibrosis. So last week he had a big test where they were going to determine if that was it. And Melissa and I prayed, very simply and clearly: Father, please make it that he does not have Cystic Fibrosis. And the test came back and he does not have Cystic Fibrosis. And we are excited and grateful. But I feel, at the same time, the temptation to just give a thumbs-up thanks to God and move on. Now, if he had the disease, I’m sure you’d hear about (we need help). But now that he doesn’t have the disease, how much more should you hear about it? Come and hear, you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for soul. I prayed to him, and he heard me!
That’s the exhortation: let us tell one another what God has done for our souls. And that we typically don’t reminds us of our need to confess our sins. Pray with me.
Prayer of Confession
Father, at root, I can’t help but think that a big problem deep in our souls is cynicism. We don’t give you the thanks due you when we things go well because we attribute it to chance. We think it would have happened anyway, without you. And Father, I repent of that. We repent of that right now. Forgive us for the gross inconsistency in our hearts — how we complain when things are hard, like you are a Father who cares, but we forget when things are well, as if you are a distant clockmaker. One moment we are like the psalmist, and the other we are like Deists. Forgive us for the dark thoughts we think of you, for the ways we think wrongly of you, and especially when we know better. That is iniquity in our hearts, and now in this moment of silence, we confess this sins and other sins to you. . . .
Father, you are a good God, and we are unworthy to be called your children. And yet, in this moment, we remember the gospel truth: that though we are unworthy, though we have turned from you and ran from you. . . . you, God, have pursued us by your grace. Your mercy has chased us down to welcome us back home. Thank you for the death of Jesus in our place. Thank you that he was raised from the dead. Thank you that all of his righteousness and victory is now ours because of your great love. In his name, amen.
Assurance of Pardon
Church, you have confessed your sins. Now, hear the good news!
When we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Therefore, to all who humbly seek the mercy of God I say, in Jesus Christ your sins are forgiven!