Summary: Whatever our circumstances God gives us grace for living.
Series: Lenten Grace
1. On the First Sunday of Lent we discovered that God’s grace extends beyond Eden.
2. On the Second Sunday in Lent we were reminded that God’s grace is a better way than our works way.
3. On the Third Sunday in Lent we observed in Jesus’ example that God’s grace knows no barriers.
4, On the Fourth Sunday in Lent we saw that God’s grace transforms darkness into light.
Title: Grace for Life (God’s grace sustains us through all of life.)
Text: Psalm 107:1 - 32
• A Call to Praise and Thanksgiving: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1
• A Gathering of people from east and west and north and south.
• 4 – Strophes or recurring scenes with repeated lines that speak of those gathered peoples.
• Cyclical Pattern: “Some were…” They had a desperate situation. They cried for help. God intervened. They had a desperate situation. They cried for help. God intervened, etc...
Thesis: Whatever our circumstances God gives us grace for life.
It seems many, though not all, quotes about history are spoken tongue in cheek with a bit of cynicism.
• “Those who do not remember the past are destined to repeat it.”
• “History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there.”
• “History is the sum total of all the things that could have been avoided.”
I like what Norman Cousins said about history: “History is a vast warning system.”
I like that quote because I believe history is also a vast support system.
Our text today is about real people who are called upon to, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithfulness endures forever.” Psalm 107:1 And the reason the Psalmist calls those real people to give thanks to God is because of the historical record of God’s faithfulness to his people through all the challenges of life.
The Psalmist uses a series of four pictures or scenes to illustrate how real people experienced real crises in life and of how God intervened in those circumstances. So this morning I want us to:
• Either see ourselves in the scenes described and be encouraged to turn to God for help.
• Or see ourselves in looking back at times God was faithful to you and turn to God with gratitude.
The first picture we have is of despairing lost travelers… wandering through life.
I. Some lived in Despair
Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. 107:4-9
When these people started out they anticipated a safe and uneventful trip but along the way they got lost.
Feel the tension: Life carefully mapped out turns to life lost.
They set out they thought the future to be a ticket to bliss. They somehow had gotten lost along the way and they are wondering where all their wandering is going to lead them.
• Despair: Utter loss of hope
German pastor Martin Rinkart served in the walled town of Eilenburg during the horrors of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. Eilenburg became an overcrowded refuge for the surrounding area. The fugitives suffered from epidemic and famine. At the beginning of 1637, the year of the Great Pestilence, there were four ministers in Eilenburg. But one abandoned his post for healthier areas and could not be persuaded to return. Pastor Rinkhart officiated at the funerals of the other two. As the only pastor left, he often conducted services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day—some 4,480 in all. In May of that year, his own wife died. By the end of the year, the refugees had to be buried in trenches without services.
Yet living in a world dominated by death, Pastor Rinkart wrote the following prayer for his children to offer to the Lord:
Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom this world rejoices.
Who, from our mother's arms,
Hath led us on our way,
“Some wandered in the wilderness of despair… but they cried out in their trouble, “Lord help us!” And he saved them from their distress…” God’s grace is sufficient for living through despair.
It is in our times of utter despair that we find faith enough to cry out to God for help!
The second picture is of a depressed people shackled in a dark and gloomy dungeon.
II. Some lived in Depression
Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. 107:10-16
When these people started out they were joyful, foot-loose and fancy-free but along the way they found themselves imprisoned in deepest gloom.
Feel the tension: Life foot-loose and free to life depressed.