Summary: The love of God revealed in Christ frees us from sorrow and empowers us to run in thankful service to him
Sermonette Text: Psalm 119: 25-32
Pentecost 12 -- Mission Festival
“Hit the dirt! Take cover!” Those are words spoken by someone on the defensive. You’d expect soldiers to shout such things. Bullets are flying. Explosions are going off. People screaming. “Hit the dirt!” And so down go the soldiers, laying low because they are on the move. They’re protecting themselves. Then there are those soldiers who have “hit the dirt” because they themselves have been hit. They aren’t on the defensive. They aren’t protecting themselves anymore. They’re defenseless and vulnerable.
At times we might feel like we’ve been knocked down and are lying in the dust. Sometimes our lives seem to be one failure after another. We feel that we are POW’s in the battle against the evils of this life. Yet, we can take heart for God’s Word reassures us that THE LORD HAS SET MY HEART FREE. 1) From Sorrow ,and 2) To Run.
Speaking of defenseless and vulnerable – that’s the picture this psalmist paints of himself. “I am laid low in the dust,” he says. This isn’t a picture of someone in victory. This isn’t even an image of someone on the defensive. This is a vivid description of somebody who’s been defeated. He’s facedown, knocked out, and he’s eating dust.
Why is he knocked down? “My soul is weary from sorrow,” he tells us. He’s been cut-to-the-quick; blasted with the artillery of sorrow. Sorrow is the realization that there is no hope. It’s the understanding that this world is ruthless. This psalm writer is telling us how living in this sinful world can wear a person out. He’s telling us what it means to come face to face with the harsh realities of his sinful life. Trouble, strife, sorrow, and pain – all those things –can hit us like an artillery blast, so that we too are laid low in the dust.
And who’s to blame? We blame the enemy,the other-side. It’s easy to blame the other person. And so we put on our radar scan in order to pin-point the enemy responsible for the sorrow and grief in our lives. It’s convenient to put the blame on politicians, employers, neighbors, family and friends. This life presents us with tough situations, and we’re tempted to point the finger at someone else for the blame. “It’s not my fault I failed the math exam, the teacher doesn’t like me!” “I didn’t mean to stay out all night, the guys from work talked me into it!”
It’s also pretty easy to turn to God and demand immediate solutions to our mistakes. It’s easy to think, “If Christ would have just returned before I got laid off, there wouldn’t be any problems right now!” What if God wants us to learn through a struggle, though? What if he just plain says, “No, not right now”? Again, the temptation is there to turn on that radar scan, pin-point God as enemy #1, and say, “Why won’t you help me? After all I’ve done for you -- I believed in you -- and this is the way you treat me? Don’t you care? Last’s the last time I’ll trust you!” It’s easy to acknowledge the fact that our souls are weary from sin. It’s easy to blame someone else and feel sorry for ourselves. And if this psalm writer had only written the first verse of our text, he’d be guilty of the same.
The Lord led this psalmist to focus on something else however. He admits that he was having a hard time of it. Sin bowled him over. Life had given him a low blow. He’s facedown in the dirt. Yet, called out to God, “Preserve my life according to your Word. Strengthen me according to your Word.” God led this psalm writer to realize that he does not cause sin or the problems it brings into our lives. God does not cause anyone to sin. We’re capable of that all by ourselves. And we’re guilty of it all by ourselves. The fact that we find ourselves lying facedown in the dirt is our own fault. We’re too weak to stand up to sin and temptation on our own. But God does care! And he does help! God has given us his Word. The Bible contains amazing promises, which God has kept.
Sin and temptation may knock us down. We may not be able to get up on our own. But along comes our Savior with strength and healing in his wings. He picks us up. He brushes us off. He offers forgiveness for all our guilt and sin. God laid his own Son in the dust; the dust of death. He did this for us because he loves us. Then he raised his Son back from the dust of death, victorious, as a conquering hero! Those are the amazing promises God has made in his Word – promises he has kept.