Crying out of the Depths of Hell (Psalm 130)
- Liturgical Date: Lenten Midweek - February 27, 2013
- Order of Service: Responsive Prayer 2
- Hymns: LSB #615, 440, 733
If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared. (Psalm 110:3-4)
"If You, O LORD, should mark iniquites, O Lord, who could stand?" The basis of my life. I am a Benchet. A "son of sin." But I am also a Christhoper. A "Christ bearer." How can I be a "Christ bearer" if I cannot stop sinning?! How can I be both saint and sinner? It makes no sense. I cannot stand before God.
So I sit here and cry out from the depths of Hell. Darkness surrounds me. I'm not as good as I'm supposed to be. I'm supposed to be better. I'm a follower of Jesus, but I don't follow Him wholeheartedly. "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of sin?" (Romans 7:24). Truer words cannot be spoken about me. I'm supposed to be so much better than I am. But I'm not.
The more I read the Bible. The more depressed I get. I don't live up to my calling as a Christian. I don't live up to my own given name. What use is there in continuing? Why doesn't God just strike me dead like I deserve?
I sit at the foot of this cross in darkness. The Light of the World (John 1:29; 8:12) was crucified on it, but no light comes to me. No light in this forsaken place. I cry out for mercy from the depths of Hell. But am I heard? Does God REALLY hear me when I pray? I feel so forsaken. Even though that preacher up front keeps telling me I'm God's precious child. But how can I beleive that? I don't ACT like God's child. How can I think of myself that way?
Every time I hear God's Word, I only hear Jesus scolding: "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No ... unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:2-3).
Were they worse sinners than me? I find that hard to believe. I live with myself every day. I know my sin. I know what a horrible person I am. It would be one thing if it were new sins every day. But I keep committing the same sins every day that I had just confessed! Nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The same old things. I can't stop doing these things.
How can that preacher keep telling me that I'm God's child? That all my sins are forgiven? How am I supposed to believe that God would forgive me? How am I supposed to believe that God wants to show His steadfast love to me? How am I supposed to believe that Jesus came to give me light? My soul dwells in such darkness. I wait and wait for the Lord, but why should He come to me? Why should He want to redeem me?
Why should Jesus redeem me? Because faith is not a feeling. Faith is also not mental assent to a group of historical facts. Faith is much more than that. Yes, Christians get down and many even become depressed because they see themselves not living up to the standard that God has set for them. Depression does not take their salvation from them. If that were the case, if the human defect of depression were ACTUALLY able to overrule God's declaration of salvation, we'd all be doomed. Not just doomed. We'd all be damned to the eternal fires of Hell. If sin can overpower God, what good would God be?
Salvation is not a process to ensure perfection. Salvation is God's declaration that HE HAS SAVED YOU. Nothing can take you out of His hands (John 10:28-29). Salvation is the proclamation that you have been brought into God's family. This message we ponder throughout the forty days of Lent. The God who spoke to the great and faithful saints of the Bible is the same God who speaks to us through His Word. Through His Word, we see that these great and faithful saints were also stark sinners. But God still calls them saints. He still saves them.
He saved them because they hoped in His promises of salvation. Saints don't act perfectly. Saints believe God's promises. Saints put their hope in the promises.
As bad as I believe that I am, I know that God has plentiful redemption (v7). I can never outsin God's forgiveness. And let me tell you, I'm not trying! I'm trying to do better. I wallow in self-pity on occasion. But as bad as I feel about myself, I believe that I have a God who has redeemed me from all my iniquities (v8). However often I cry out from the depths of Hell, I believe that I will not spend any time in the abyss. I will rise with my Lord to meet Him in the skies to go and live with Him forever in the place that He has prepared for me (1 Thessalonians 4:17; John 14:2-3).
This same assurance is yours. If you believe. Trust not in your feelings. They change from moment to moment. Trust in the unchanging God. "Our help in ages past, our hope for years to come" (LSB #733.1). "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5) or feelings. They are tainted with sin. But He has overcome sin to make you His own.
Those truer words from earlier? "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of sin?" (Romans 7:24). Jesus Christ has delivered me from my sin. One day He will deliver me from this body of sin. He declared that on this cross when He said, "It is finished!" (John 19:30) That is the certainty I have. The truest words that need to be heard every day. Jesus has forgiven me all my sin. He has forgiven you your sins as well. Amen.
God, our Father, who is rich in mercy and with whom is plenteous forgiveness, remember not the sins of my youth, nor our transgressions. Blot them out for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, who became the sacrifice for our sins. For the sake of His crimson blood let our sins be forgotten, and let them be imputed to us no more. Amen.