The Wound, the Pain, and the Salve – 10th in a series Song of Ascents

The Wound, the Pain, and the Salve
Song of Ascents Psalm 130
Good morning,
  Today is the tenth in a series on the Songs of Ascent, Psalm 130. Sir Bernard Williams said, “There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope”. Hope is a powerful thing because, when we refuse to let go of it, the mind of man will find a way to make through the storms. According to the dictionary, “hope” can be used as a noun or a verb; the noun form of hope is “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”; the verb form “to feel something desired may happen”. According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary and Theology, hope is “a sense of trust”. The question we need to ask our self is, “with whom is my confidence”? The answer to that question will either be a fortress to us or, be our weakest link.
Forgiveness is a crazy thing because, when we feel we do not need it, we take little or no recognition of its power (Luke 7 in reference). The over-used phrase “We are all sinners” implies a common thread. Unfortunately, it requires very little to say it until we fully recognize its implications. Only when we have sinned and have come before God and received forgiveness do we come face-to-face with the reality that our home should be in school if it had not been for the cross. Derwin Grey’s assessment is that the bad times of our life challenge us to rely on Christ’s love and forgiveness[1]. We must understand that God will never chase us down to forgive us nor, will he give a blank check of forgiveness to be cashed whenever we feel like it. To be forgiven for anything, sinful actions must be atoned for which, requires a sacrifice. In the book of Leviticus, Moses is given a whole litany of things of situations and steps that must be taken. In the New Testament, there is the cross where the final sacrifice was committed (Hebrews 12). As I present three points that I believe are crucial our journey up the steps to the Temple of God, my prayer is that you will find the encouragement you need for your life today.
Point 1 – Asking for Forgiveness (vs. 1-4)
In the first four verses, the writer is in the presence of the Almighty God seeking forgiveness for whatever he is facing at that moment. You will notice that he is not praying like the self-righteous Pharisee but more like the poor man (Luke 18:9-14). This kind of prayer is a called a “shiggeonoth” which is an emphatic deeply felt prayer. One does not pray this prayer like one would repeat a movie quote; rather, it is stated when we know the truth and it has set us free (John 8:31-32). From this prayer, the writer, I believe, was able to come out of the presence of the Living God with his heart weighing far less than what he carried into the room. In the same way, many of us have carried deep and heavy bags of sin to the only place where the sin(s) can be laid down and never picked up again. I do not imply that the cross is a mere dumping ground so that we can have room for more sin; rather, it is the place where we can walk out free and able to free others who have hurt us as the parable of the forgiven debt implies (Matthew 18:21-35).
Forgiveness is a resounding theme throughout scripture. Asking for anything requires us to recognize our need; or, we will not ask for it. Unfortunately, as humans go, we do not always ask for forgiveness because either we do not think we have sinned or, it “wasn’t our fault”. In the book of Revelations, chapter 3, we read about the Church of Laodicea. Accordingly, the church said by its actions, “it was rich had no need of anything” (Revelations 3:17-18). This arrogant view is common to man because, as long as the money is available or the power to influence, man thinks they have all they need (Revelations 3:17-18).  When the money is gone or, a job is lost, the man comes to his /her senses.  Consider Nebuchadnezzar how he was humbled in an instant (Daniel 3).
It is no secret that sin keeps apart from God; not because God holds a grudge against us but, because sin and righteousness are anti-thesis of each other (Amos 3:7). How many times in life has each of us sinned against our parents, family, or friends and then stayed away from that person for long periods of time? Why did we do that? Because facing the person would mean confronting the problem (sin) and making it right. Remember, the Devil of old has no desire to see us receive forgiveness because, while we are in sin, he has control over us. Consider it this way: if you had done something wrong that only one person knew about. What power would that individual have over you? It is that kind of power that the Devil holds over the person who lives in sin.
Point 2 – Bridging the Gap (Verse 5-6)
There is a part about forgiveness that is often overlooked and that is, “it takes time” and it requires something of all parties involved. The easiest thing in the world is to say is, “forget it” and think the problem(s) is/are solved. In Proverbs, it states “through love and faithfulness a sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord man avoids evil” (Proverbs 16:6). Unfortunately, forgiveness is more than just a three little word sentence, it is the point of truly letting the person go. The person who committed the sin must live with what they did and spend the rest of his/her life making things right. After Paul was forgiven, he spent some time alone in a dark place. During that time, I can only imagine the pain that he felt knowing what he did and yet, to hear “you are forgiven”. When Jesus met the disciple Ananias and gave the instructions to go meet with Saul of Tarsus, it would be the most difficult thing he would be sent to do; because, it would mean he too would have to forgive Saul and take the lead at inviting him in to the house of God (Acts 9:10-18).
When we make things right, the pain we caused still remains somewhere in our hearts. Stephen was taken from his family and no amount of forgiveness would bring him back. However, forgiveness bridges the gap between bitterness and the ability to move forward to healing[2]. The church in Damascus could have used the opportunity to treat Saul the same way he treated Stephen. In forgiving him and accepting him, the church was able to move forward, and Stephen’s death served a purpose.  In the same way, today, as we hear of wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6-13), it is our opportunity to take a lesson from Saul and forgive whatever is holding us back.
In scripture and in the pulpit, we hear how Jesus’ death paid the price for sin. I’m not sure if anybody else has had a lingering question in their mind “how his death paid the price” or not; but, for me, I always wondered why the cross was necessary. Wouldn’t it be easier if he had just coalesced to the whims of the Sanhedrin and lived a morally upright life and then died in good time? The answer is, “yes” but, the effect would have been short-lived. When you get injured, there is usually a wound to contend with which, must be treated or, it will become infected. Sin is much the same way; the problem is, it is hidden from sight and is usually ignored. For some of us, wounds heal very quick for others, not so much. The same is said of sin. There are the innocuous sins that are easily forgiven and later laughed about; such as, the antics of our kids when they are young.  The ones that are more problematic are the ones like the case of Saul, David, Solomon, and many others. For the like, the cross stands in the gap with the sign “Paid in Full”.
Point 3 – Rightly Placed Hope (vs. 7-8)
In life, we have two areas where our hope can be placed when we sin: in our resources or, in God that he will forgive us and not use our actions against us. Unfortunately, the first response of mankind is to rely on our resources more than our source. Consider if you will how the kings Ahaz, Jehoshaphat, and ___ took parts of the gold from the temple in Jerusalem to buy themselves out of a fight. In the same way, many of us rely on our checkbooks to save our behinds. Only when we get to the bottom of our accounts is God able to do what he does best and that is, to set us free.
Sadly, earthly resources are a poor wall to lean on; because, finances like a kingdom and human connections, will not save us nor, can they absolve us from our sins. Only in Jesus can we be fully forgiven and fully restored. Saul, above all people, was fully connected to the ranks of the Pharisees and was fully within Sanhedrin’s authority to do what he was called to do (Acts 9). Saul’s position was a wall of protection of sorts. When Jesus stopped him on the road to Damascus, all that Saul thought was right and just became sin in his mind and he died spiritually (Romans 7:4-6). When we stand before God in judgment, our arguments and sound reasoning for our actions will not stand in God’s court; because, his word which was written long before our time still stands as the voice of truth. If you will look back on history, you will notice that every evil kingdom, no matter how strong it is, does not last for all ages (Proverbs 27:23-24).
Conclusion
Doubtless, the ways of the world will lead us down paths we should not go because, its leader, Satan, makes it all seem like a party.  When the party is over and the party guest, you, are depleted of resources, it is cast aside. Regretfully, we cannot go back and undo our mistakes, heal the wounds, or make all of the woes go away.  We can, however, look to the cross and find the strength to cross the gap toward healing. Crossing the gap means, letting go of the thing that causes us pain and allowing it to be covered by the blood of Jesus. Forgiveness is far more difficult than what we may or may not understand. Some of us have carried wounds in our heart for 30, 40 years or more believing we are justified by our feelings.  Yet, in holding onto the wound, parts of us die right along with the pain and we miss out on the very best things of life.
Nowhere in scripture will you find an instance where God says, “just forgive the person, it’s no big deal so what if he/she treated you badly”. Rather, he understands our pain and only desires for us to be free (Isaiah 53:5). My prayer for you today is that whatever you are facing, you will find the strength and courage to let go of the pain and sorrow. Come walk with me


[1] Derwin Grey. How Can We Have Hope When Everything Looks Hopeless? Christianity Today (April 2015). Accessed https://www.christianitytoday.com/derwin-gray/2015/april/how-can-we-have-hope-when-everything-looks-hopeless.html
[2] Rlfor Women staff. Bridging the Gap Between Bitterness and Freedom – Forgiveness. RlforWomen (3/19/2013). Accessed https://rlforwomen.com/bridging-the-gap-between-bitterness-and-freedom-forgiveness/

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