Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | June 18, 2007

Has God Forgotten Us? (Oldie But Goodie)

Has God Forgotten Us? (Oldie But Goodie)
A reflection for Ash Wednesday, 2002. The Bible readings appointed are: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 103; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10; and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21. This reflection is based on Psalm 103.

“O bless the Lord, my soul! His mercies bear in mind. The Lord to thee is kind” This hymn is based on the appointed psalm. The Lord’s goodness and mercy is sadly overlooked by many in favor in God’s judgement and righteous anger towards evildoers. Especially after the attacks that shook our nation on September 11. Many have said that the attacks were God’s judgement on our country for a long list of sins. While it is easy for some to point fingers and blame everyone but themselves for bad things, the real problem lies with human nature. There is no one who is completely blameless, and all have gone astray, as Paul writes to the Romans in chapter three, verses 11 and 12. But God does not abandon us to our own devices or forget us, as badly as we may mess up. This is the heart of the Gospel message. As the author of the gospel of John writes, “For God so loved the world, He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved”

As we enter into this season of Lent, we will be reflecting on our own need of repentance. But, at the same time, let’s not forget God’s mercy and love as expressed in this psalm.

God is the One who forgives all our sins, heals us, delivers us from the pits in our lives, surrounds us with compassion, and gives us good things. As many of you know, I was one of God’s prodigal children for several years. I often felt as though there wasn’t much forgiveness for turning my back on God, but found great forgiveness when I did return. As a friend of mine said, “There must’ve been a heckuva party in Heaven”, on the day I renewed my commitment to Christ at Confirmation. Though it must grieve God to see His children stray, He welcomes us back with open arms.

The Psalmist tells us that God is “slow to anger and of great kindness”. This anger is not an emotional, often selfish, human anger. It’s more of a righteous anger that does not tolerate unrepentant sinfulness. God is always ready to forgive those who turn to Him.

God’s compassion is compared to a parent’s compassion on their children. How true! In a debate with an atheist I had recently, this came up. He had compared God to a mentally ill child abuser who punishes their children for not doing as he says. So, I asked him if he had children, and, if so, if he had rules they had to follow. He replied, yes. I asked him what purpose his rules served, and his response was that they were primarily for the good of his children. I asked him if disobeying those rules had consequences, and he agreed. I asked him if he thought this made parents inhumane, because their childrens’ misbehavior often had consequences. He said no, so I asked him if it were fair to expect parents to take away their childrens’ choices, and again, he said no. My response was: well, that’s how it is with God and us. There was a pause, and he told me I’d given him something to think about.

While we must be aware of sin in our own lives, we shouldn’t allow this awareness to blind us to where we’re so focused on it that we ignore God’s rich blessings in our lives. Neither should we be so focused on God’s mercy that we forget our sins. This Lent, let us try to evenly balance these two aspects in our lives.

Amen.


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