Psalm 146:5-10 (VOICE) 5 Blessed are those whose help comes from the God of Jacob, whose hope is centered in the Eternal their God — 6 Who created the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that lives within them; Who stays true and remains faithful forever; 7 Who works justice for those who are pressed down by the world, providing food for those who are hungry. The Eternal frees those who are imprisoned; 8 He makes the blind see. He lifts up those whose backs are bent in labor; He cherishes those who do what is right. 9 The Eternal looks after those who journey in a land not their own; He takes care of the orphan and the widow, but He frustrates the wicked along their way. 10 The Eternal will reign today, tomorrow, and forever. People of Zion, your God will rule forever over all generations. Praise the Eternal!
The words above, from Psalm 146 offer both a comfort and a challenge. The comfort comes in the delineation of who God is and the character of God: God is the one who created the heavens and the earth; God remains faithful forever; God works for justice for the oppressed; God feeds the hungry; God frees the imprisoned; He makes the blind see.
It is, of course, good news that our God lifts up those who are bent in labor (with sore backs); and that he loves those who do what is right. What else could it be but good news to know that God is on the side of those that are struggling. It is great news that the God that created heaven and earth – and everything else – cares about his creation. God cares enough to mend, not just mend, but heal the broken; to right wrongs, and to generally set the world right.
In all of this good and wonderful news – and it is most definitely that – there is also a challenge. The challenge comes in the form of a question: where is your hope centered in? Or, more specifically in what or in whom is your hope centered on?
The answer to this is all important, because it will determine both how you hear the Good News of about our God and how you respond to it. What I mean is this: If we believe that God looks after ‘those in a land not their own’; if we believe that God takes care of the orphan and the widow; if we believe that God does these things and that so doing frustrates the wicked that has to have an effect on us.
If we believe that God doing all of these things is good news, then shouldn’t we want to be a part of it? Shouldn’t we want to participate in what is called the ‘Missio Dei’ – the mission of God or the overarching purpose behind all that God does in our world?
The obvious answer, the answer that all of us, instinctively want to give is, of course: yes. But it isn’t really that simple. It isn’t that simple because how we answer the question is determined by what (and who) our hope is centered on.
If our hope is centered on Jesus, that means that we have decided to trust in him and place our lives in his hands. To trust that he will care for us and provide for us all that we need. If our hope is centered on Jesus, then we are free to participate in feeding the hungry, freeing the captives, caring for the stranger.
But, if our hope is off center, if it is centered on anything other than Jesus than our hope is built on shifting sands and a faulty, broken foundation. Hope centered on anything other than our God – the God who created the universe, and that loves each of us – weighs us down and keeps us from being who God created us to be. False hope built on anything other than Jesus keeps us from doing what God created and calls us to do.
If we have place our hope in material things – instead of trusting God’s providence and freely sharing the gifts we have to been given to help feed the hungry or care for the stranger, we are tempted to cling tightly to what we already have.
If we place our hope in ourselves and our capabilities – instead of trusting God’s strength to be displayed in our weakness – and so we make choices based on our limits and our abilities and focus them on those we feel responsible to or for. But that leaves little or know capacity to reach out for those who are no one’s responsibility – orphans and widows, etc.
So, first a question: where is your hope centered? And then, if you dare to answer: In the Eternal God and his son Jesus Christ, a challenge and a call to action: live of out the hope you claim – trust in God’s provision and live out a life of joyful service, participating in the mission of God.
Sharing God’s Love,
Prayer: Lord, help us to put our trust in you. Help us to center our hope on your Son Jesus. Trusting in you, lead us to be coworkers with you in sharing your light and love in our dark and broken world. Amen.