Commentary on the Gospel of
Could it really be true that the Creator of the universe actually cares about you and me, on a personal level? Do we live our lives as though we actually believe that fact? In today’s Lectionary, God walks us through the reality of that truth.
Our first glimpse of how this works is found during Paul’s second missionary trip as chronicled in Acts 16. Of course, God was with Paul throughout each of his missionary excursions, but that isn’t the heart of the story as described in verses 11 thru 15. On the Sabbath, Paul and his traveling companions went outside the bustling city of Philippi to pray. The key point, however, is the people who just “happened” to be at that same spot Paul was heading. These were not old friends, but simple people who “happened by the grace of God” to be there. Lydia was one of those people. We learn that God “opened her heart” to what Paul was saying. Lydia and her household were baptized and then she invited them to her home. She was just an ordinary person, like you and me, and yet God powerfully intervened in her day-to-day life and the lives of her family to make a life changing impact.
Today’s Psalm provides an exclamation point to this fact of just how much God cares for us personally. From that Psalm, we hear repeatedly that “the Lord takes delight in his people.” The word “delight” is quite frankly astonishing. All of us our sinners, yet our perfect God delights in each of us. This certainly defies logic and the world’s way of thinking. It reinforces the fact that God’s thoughts and ways are far above ours. As noted in the Psalm, our natural response to God’s amazing delight in us is to praise him with a joyful heart. How else could we possible respond to His amazing, grace filled love as we grasp His involvement with every aspect of our daily lives?
Yet we do live our earthly lives in a fallen world, a fact that certainly does not catch our God by surprise. He knew that his disciples (and each of us) would face unjust hardships, the kind that would severely test their (our) faith. The kind of persecution that God knew they (and we) would likely not be able to withstand on their own. Today’s Gospel from John provides the perfect answer to individual, overwhelming challenges. God provided his disciples (and each of us) with the perfect Advocate, the Holy Spirit. God did not ask them to face trials on their own, as he also does not ask us to face our trials alone. We have been given, individually, the Spirit of Truth to strengthen and sustain us. We are never alone. His spirit living in us empowers us individually to face the specific trials we each face each day of our lives. While this reality is exceedingly difficult to grasp (with all the people on the face of the earth, how could God possibly know or care about each of our individual little challenges) yet throughout His word, we are reminded over and over again that our God truly does love and care for each of us. He is God and ALL things are possible for Him.
Dear Heavenly Father, your love is so amazing, so incomprehensible. You know the challenges that each of us face each and every day and You alone provide the never-ending love to see us through each day’s journey. Help me to never lose sight of that amazing fact and to respond with never ending joyful praise. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.