You are the God who works wonders; you have displayed your might among the peoples. Psalm 77:14

To his saints God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:26-27 

“Comforting reflections in a time of great distress” is a quote from the notes for Psalm 77 in the NIV Bible. Both of our verses for today are written by people who have experienced great troubles and difficulties. Distress that seems endless. Read a few verses at the beginning of Psalm 77, where the Psalmist says he is crying to the Lord for help, even as he refused to be comforted, couldn’t shut his eyes to sleep, too troubled to speak, but his thoughts continued to be of distress and how things were not like they used to be. Sounds a lot like what we are experiencing right now in the midst of this pandemic. Lots of worries, anxiety. We too might ask God for help, but then continue right on worrying.    

However, the writer, doesn’t just leave it there. As we see in many Psalms it is written as a series of four verse stanzas. In the passage for today he continues on to remember all the things God has done for him. He resolves to meditate on all the works of God and to remember His might deeds. He declares that God’s ways are holy, miracles are performed, and this is displayed to all people everywhere, not just the Israelites.    

Paul has also been through a lot of difficulty as he has been spreading the Gospel. Opposition from many sides must have him a little anxious. Maybe he worried too and didn’t sleep so well at night. Seems like he could have just thrown his hands up and said enough, maybe retired to a nice quiet town and made tents. But Paul had a calling to spread this Good News, to proclaim the mystery of Christ coming into our world, His death and resurrection, and the salvation that was available to all. When things were not looking so good for one individual, he looked beyond that to what God had done. What had been hidden to most of the world, was now evident and could be seen by all. Everyone could hear the Good News of what God, our Creator, is doing for all of us.  

As we go through Advent and anticipate Christmas, things look a little different this year. No church services with music, and candles and fellowship. No big family gatherings, fewer shopping trips to crowded stores. We can feel separated and wonder if it really is Christmas without all the trappings and fun. After we slow down and think about what is essential in Christmas, we can realize as did David and Paul, that the wonderful things God has done show His care for us. Especially in His saving act of sending His son, Jesus Christ as the savior of us all.  

Awesome Father and Loving Savior, in this time of preparation, lead us boldly into the mystery that is you. You do amazing and wonderful works for and through your children. Forgive us for our inconsistent faith. Open our hearts and minds so that your dwelling within us reveals outer signs of service and mission. Amen.     

Chris Gabel