Reflections: Monday the Eighteenth Week of Pentecost

October 2, 2023

Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32

Daily Lectionary: 2 Chronicles 33:1-25, Colossians 1:24-2:7

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live. (Ezekiel 18:32)

In the name of Jesus, Amen. It’s not my fault! I didn’t do anything wrong! Why do I have to pay the price for what someone else did? This is what the people of Israel meant when they quoted the proverb: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?” It was passing the blame onto their ancestors for their suffering, playing the victim card. 

The people of Israel suffered great affliction. Yes, the sins of their fathers didn’t help.  But neither did they in their own sin and unbelief.  We too would cry out to God and complain, blaming others and God as they did. Christians daily do all of the above, cry out, complain and blame God. It is okay to cry out to God and complain, but not to blame him. Such prayer is very good when it is done in faith, love and trust in God. Our crying out and complaining get muddled with our sinful hearts and minds. And God sometimes, through His Word, speaks sternly and directly to us in our sin as a loving father, as He did for the people of Israel. 

Our prayers often are self-centered. God sorts that all out, our sin and faith that is, through His Word and Holy Spirit. That is one purpose of prayer; getting things sorted and cleared-up in our hearts and minds.  So, we pray “with all boldness and confidence…as dear children ask their dear father.” God doesn’t mind the “why me” prayers at all. Because he hears and answers according to His good, right and merciful will. It is good to ask God why and seek the answers in prayer and His Word.

All people, including those who have caused suffering in our lives, will be held accountable before God and judged. We cannot fully know now the reason for affliction that God permits. But we do know that He uses suffering for the purpose of saving sinners. God is always about giving life over death in Jesus. Through suffering, His Word, prayer and the Holy Spirit, God turns us from our human thinking and ignorance. He draws us to Himself so that we can see clearly that Jesus suffered and died in our place. We will stand fully alive before God on the last day as forgiven and cherished sons and daughters with Jesus. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, 

  for I am lonely and afflicted. 

The troubles of my heart are enlarged; 

   bring me out of my distresses. 

Consider my affliction and my trouble, 

   and forgive all my sins.  (Psalm 25:16-18)

-Pastor Preston Paul is pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Almena, WI.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Jonathan Lackey is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Vine Grove, Ky.

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.