Sermon / Pr. Lucas Albrecht / Wednesday Prayer Service June 7th 2017 - / Psalm 65 / Control
Text: Psalm 65
Intr – Martina Navratilova was one of world’s greatest Champions in Tennis history. She’s now in the sports history gallery as one of what they used to call ‘myths’ or ‘legends’. In 2010, however, the ex-tennis player announced she was entering another gallery, where unfortunately there are thousands of other women: she announced she had breast cancer. It was an early detection and the prognosis was said to be excellent. In fact, after six months she was declared to be cancer free. But still, this is the kind of diagnosis that shakes one person’s whole life. What called my attention back then was her statement that underlined this truth: “I feel so in control of my life and my body, and then this comes, and it's completely out of my hands.”
Navratilova reasserted what is true for our whole life: it is way, really way out of our hands. How many times does that happen to us? We think we are in control. Life goes so easy and well predicted that we don’t even think that anything could get out of hand. Then something happens to remind us we are not in control. It doesn’t need to be a cancer or a major disaster. There are so many things, small or big, that are a reminder that we are not as godlike as we sometimes think we are. For example:
Tell your eyes to stop blinking for 5 minutes. Ask your intestine right after dinner to stop processing and digesting the food. Give a brain command to your heart to stop beating for sixty seconds. In fact, can you tell your brain to stop thinking?
No, we can’t control that. We sent the man to the moon, we managed to get the atom fission, we connected the whole world instantly. But we can’t control even a single tear whose time to fall has come.
I don’t want to advocate a theory of complete chaos, of course. We do have our responsibilities about decisions we make. There is for sure a certain measure of control, care and planning that we must be responsible for in our lives. But the danger is when we think that we have it - the control - entirely. The idea here is to remind us how dependent, complex and fragile we are. We are Human. If we think we can live alone and control everything, we have a lot to lose.
Psalm 65 is a song of praise for the one WHO IS in control. Who is the Creator, the forgiver, the Giver, the care giver. The psalmist is praising the one who is our Lord and Saviour.
-God of our salvation
-The hope of all the ends of the earth
-The one who with His strength established the mountains
-Stills the roaring of the seas
Who can do all of those things? Who can stop an eye from blinking, a heart from beating, a stomach from processing foods? Who can stop a sickness from growing, who can really mend a broken heart? Who can forgive anything and who is the One who can really carry us in His arms?
There is only one. “Praise is due to Him”, says verse 1. Actually, if we look closely to the Hebrew text, we will see this is a difficult passage to translate. For there appears the word “Silence”. It would be something like “Praise in silence to You, o Lord”. It is hard to nail down the exact meaning for the phrase. One of them we have in our translation, “Praise is due to Him”. But it could also mean that in silence we praise and we hope in God. Yes, that’s all we can do when we realize we have less control over life than we thought: silence; hope. Faith. In Him.
As I said before, alone we have a lot to lose. But when we are with Him, we are stronger. Under His love, we have all and everything. Not in an arrogant or self-sufficient way, but in the best sense the word all can have here – we are children of a Father who gives us salvation, hope and assuredness to walk in life under His Grace and love. Under His Control and guidance, His Truth sets us free to praise Him and to love and serve our neighbour.
Psalm 65 celebrates the blessings from our God. His Creation and His Control over it. His love for us by providing us with everything we NEED for daily life. That’s an important thing to always have in mind. We don’t always have everything we WANT. But God surely always provides us with everything we need. Also, how He crowns the year with bounty and all the blessings He pours out in our lives.
But especially, and firstly, Psalm 65 points to the greatest gift of all: Forgiveness. “When iniquities prevail against me, You atone for our transgressions”. There’s really nothing else we need the most in life than forgiveness and new life. Because the weight of sorrow and hurt is overwhelming upon us. We need Him to atone for our sin and to relieve us from this burden. Especially because we know where sin leads us ultimately…
Christ did the atonement. He removes our sin and gives us a new heart. His work of Love gives us the atonement the Psalmist praises we have in the Lord.
Our Saviour invites us also to share this precious gift of forgiveness. To let hurt and sorrow go. So we can live under His grace and hope. Because when we allow hurt, grudge, and sorrow to linger something interesting happens. Think about this:
Imagine you are hurt by your next door neighbour. So big is your anger that you can’t even live in the same city anymore. Then you pack up your things and go away. Now everything will change. Your city, your street, your house. New job, new friends. Even a new favorite grocery store, pizza place or hairdresser. Almost everything has changed - except for one thing: your hurt. Your sorrow. It never changed. It is there with you, wherever you go. The only difference is that it possibly has grown larger each day. To ignore a problem doesn’t make it go away.
Now, imagine if you decided to forgive that next door neighbour. Even if you would take a long time to do so. You would pray and ask God week in, week out to help you get over that. What happens then? Nothing changes. Same city, same street, same friends. Same gas station, same car shop. Your life is there where it always was. Except for one thing: your hurt, your sorrow. It is gone. It started to slowly fade away until one day you realized you let it go.
Because that’s the only way hurt, and sorrow - SIN – can go away. Forgiveness. That’s what Jesus conquered for us on His Cross. That’s what the psalmist celebrates. Forgiveness we receive from God. And forgiveness we can share with others!
When hurt and sorrow want us to move, we can move first. We can leave everyhing exactly as it is. Forgiveness.
So everything changes when we realize that we are in the Hands of Him who really knows what is going on. It calms us down and puts life in perspective. Knowing that God is in control gives us the safest life possible That is true not because of a myth or a legend but of a true man Who came into History - Jesus Christ - to win the greatest victory of all time. Then we realize that not only our life but our death is in His control, too. The perfect and complete control. “Praises due to Him, in Zion”. For He hears our prayer, He atones our sins, He crowns the year with bounty.
Cc - So when the time comes for our eyes to really stop blinking and our heart to really stop beating, we won’t need tears of pain or fear. We will be, as we have always been, in the Hands of the one who has all the control over our life. For in Him we are always in the best and the safest place in the world. HIs Hands. Amen.