Focal Passage: Psalm 30; John 16:20-22
The superscription of Psalm
30, “at the dedication of the temple,” suggests public worship (see Learner’s
Study Guide, p. 124). But originally this psalm was very personal.
The writer had suffered some
form of physical distress. Maybe it involved a conflict with an enemy (“You did
not let my foes rejoice over me,” v. 1), more likely an illness (“You have
healed me,” v. 2), perhaps even a brush with death (“What profit is there in my
death?” v. 9).
But his was no fair weather
faith. This psalmist understood: “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy
comes in the morning” (v. 5), and God is the God of both.
It would have been easy to
fall for what is called the “prosperity gospel:” that one of God’s main
functions is to provide good health, personal happiness and material well-being
to believers, and that we secure these blessings by having sufficient faith. In
the psalmist’s own words, “As for me, I said in my prosperity, ‘I shall never
be moved’” (v. 6).
It was not to be. Calamity
struck. Did the psalmist deride himself for not having enough faith?
Was God to blame for not
keeping His part of the bargain? Neither.
“You hid your face, I was
dismayed” (v. 7); at the same time, “To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I
made supplication” (v. 8). God may be closest to us when He seems farthest
“You have turned my mourning
into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy” (v. 11).
Suffering is real, life is hard and the world can be a dangerous place, but God
has the last word (see John 16:20-22, part of Jesus’ farewell speech to the
disciples after the Last Supper).
“O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever” (v. 12).
There is never a moment, in good times or bad, when it is not appropriate to
At 80, Miss Lula was almost
completely blind. Her husband dragged one foot and his arm hung limp from a
stroke. They lived alone in their little house. Now she was in the hospital
with a broken hip.
The doctor asked, “Have you
been hospitalized recently?” — a medical question, calling for a medical response.
“Last year, with a detached retina,” she might have said. Instead she answered,
“Not really. The Lord’s been very
good to me.”
She could have written the