What gain is there in my destruction?
What joy is there in my going down to the pit?
Will the dust worship you?
Will the dust proclaim your faithfulness?
When I am feeling discouraged, disappointed and disillusioned with myself, and in my faith, it is almost always when I also feel alienated from God. And that makes me resort to self-condemnation, because, I reason, how could a holy, righteous God be wrong?
Which is quite precisely the point, albeit with a different meaning than that produced by self-condemnation. The point of this question is . . . are you ready for this? The point is . . . Since God cannot be wrong, how could he have been wrong about me? Or you? How is it that he has made a mistake, a bad investment where you and I are concerned? You may consider yourself a failure, but God does not. You may, because of your indiscretions, or outright evil, think that you do not deserve, that you are not worthy of God’s favor, yet he thinks otherwise, yet he favors you – regardless of what you think about it, regardless of your human logic and moralizing or anti-moralizing about yourself. I’m pretty good at that stuff. After all, I’ve been to seminary! I mean, like Adam, I’ve gorged myself with the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I know about this stuff! Don’t you? I suspect you might know a little bit.
Now to this self-deprecating notion of, “I am not worthy . . .” both you and I need to take a look at what God has paid! Let your mind envision his Son crucified on a Roman cross. That is what God thought you are worth. How then can you say, “I am not worthy?”
I know, I know, I’m bouncing back and forth between first and second persons. But I’m doing that for a reason. Writers have that dubious priviledge. We can ignore the rules of formal grammar to make a point. And the point is, we, both of us, you and I, him and her; cousins, aunts and uncles; all of us deal with this junk. Everyday.
For many reasons, you and I may feel unworthy, and we may rationally conclude that we actually are unworthy. I mean look at the facts; e.g., our screwed-up lives. But there is another set of facts that say something entirely different. Here is an irreducible, immutable factoid: God paid a terrible and costly price for you, and you can’t escape the raw reality that -- that is how much you are worth to God.
You may think, “Yeah, but Jesus died for the whole world. Not just for me.” Ok. But think about it. Suppose it was “just for you?” Suppose you were the only person alive at the time, do you think Jesus would have died only for you? Go ahead, deal with that for a second.
The answer is irresistible, and it is “YES!” He would have died just for you. And that, my friend, is the measure of God’s love for you and the value he places on you. I use instruments of measure all the time: Ohmmeters, meat thermometers, 1-foot rulers, yards, centimeters, meters, etc. When we say how much we love our kids, we throw our arms open wide and say, “th-i-i-i-s much!” Well, the cross is an instrument of measure, too.
The psalmist asks the question, “What gain is there in your being marginalized?” Good question. For God, there is zero profit in such a thing. You can be sure that God knows exactly where to invest his resources. He has chosen you, and offered the death of his Son as collateral. Do you think he is going to dump you when your spiritual, rational or emotional “Dow-Jones” plunges, or takes a dip? Hardly.
So loosen up, and with the psalmist say with joy, “Oh Lord you really do like me.” Sometimes like is better than love. You can love someone you don’t like, but you rarely like someone you don’t love at some level. But God likes as much as he loves. He makes the mountain of your life to stand strong. A mountain. Not dust!
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