Friday, February 10, 2017

Strength

Today's reflection on Wednesday's Daily Texts:

But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? - Malachi 3:2

You wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Corinthians 1:7-8

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 21; 2 Chronicles 11:1-12:12; Acts 20:4-16

When I read Wednesday's texts, it struck me that the focus on God's strength stands in contrast with what we experience in life sometimes. For example, Psalm 21 begins and ends with praise of God's strength, and the whole psalm revels in the blessings and victories that come to "the king" with God's power. Yet on the same page in my Bible, I noticed Psalm 22, the psalm that John says Jesus quoted from the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

There are some insights in today's texts about endings and beginnings, too - and these also have to do with God's strength. In 2 Chronicles, King Rehoboam sees the end of the days of wealth and splendor left over from his father Solomon's time, and yet because he and the nation stayed faithful and connected with God, "conditions were good in Judah." In Acts 20, a young man suffers death by sermon boredom, but the power of God working through Paul restores him to life.

The Bible's ultimate ending and beginning, of course is the Day of the Lord, to which the Malachi and 1 Corinthians verses refer. We wait, we aim to stand, we endure, we require strength in the time between now and then. This end time usually seems far away to me (I enjoy pointing out that there have been well over 200 specific predictions of the end time since Bible times, and all have been wrong - and that 0-200 is a far worse record than the 2008 Detroit Lions, the 2011 Indianapolis Colts, or the 2016 Cleveland Browns). Yet the Bible clearly lifts up the vision of the Day of the Lord, so strongly that it impacts us now. This vision's assurance and hope colors today.

All of this together says to me that human life continually has its highs and lows, endings and beginnings. We know the full range of human emotion, from exuberance to despair. We long for some endings and dread others. We may or may not recognize what will come whenever something new begins. And all of this happens within the time Malachi and Paul are writing about, this in-between time when God's victory has been promised, but not yet come to be. We wait. We aim to stand. We endure. We require strength. And whether the moment we're in today is something we would judge as "good" or as "bad," we have promise and assurance and hope that God is our strength.

May we live in this hope. May we stay connected to God in faithfulness. May God's strength be ours, so that the good news of God's love will be known by us, in us, among us, and through us.

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