Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests; wail, O ministers of the altar. . . .Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. (Joel 1:13-14)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. As the people of God gather today, the minister still takes the lead: “O almighty God, merciful Father.” The rest of God’s children then join in the cry, “I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your temporal and eternal punishment” (LSB, p.184).
With the prophet, we, too, know that there’s no point digging in our heels. While there may be no direct correlation between our sin and the trials and troubles we face in life (think Job), the trials and troubles we do face could never hold a candle to the trials and troubles, both “temporal and eternal,” our sins say we deserve.
The proper response among God’s people to any trial, or to the locust plague Joel writes about today is not, “Why me, God?” As Luther’s first of 95 theses teaches, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” In other words, the proper response is, “Thank You, God, for not giving me what I truly deserve, what my sins rightly merit. Thank You for giving all of that instead to Jesus, on the Cross, for me. And thank You for all the blessings You do give me.”
You will never find such faith by looking within. It’s not born by mulling over your own subjective experiences. It is born of the Gospel. That is, it is given by God Himself every day in the water and promise of Baptism. By God as your pastor absolves you and preaches the Gospel to you. By God with Jesus’ Body and Blood, “for you, for the forgiveness of sins.” Faith is yours as the Gospel is yours.
As the Gospel promises, everything that is yours belongs to the Cross now, and everything that belongs to Jesus belongs to you, now. There’s your faith. Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
My soul, now praise your Maker! Let all within me bless His name Who makes you full partaker Of mercies more than you dare claim. Forget Him now whose meekness Still bears with all your sin, Who heals your every weakness, Renews your life within; Whose grace and care our endless And saved you through the past; Who leaves no suff’rer friendless But rights the wrong at last. (“My Soul, Now Praise Your Maker” LSB 820, st.1)
-Rev. Bradley Drew is pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch
Pastor-psychiatrist duo Rev. A. Trevor Sutton and Dr. Brian Smith have teamed up to help you evaluate your technology use through a Christian perspective. Learn how to form healthy, faithful technology habits with Jesus at the center. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.