Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning:
I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy,
and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Suffering is a part of life in this world, and our current global crisis is yet another example. While some suffering is easy to compartmentalize because it is a tornado which struck over, or a tsunami which struck over there, or a political collapse which struck over there, or a famine which afflicted people over there, global catastrophes make it difficult for anyone to escape the present pain. Even individual pain of those around us is easier to compartmentalize and distance ourselves from, because it is not happening to us personally. Yet today the world is reminded that it is a fallen place, and that pain can strike everyone, everywhere. There is no escape based on race, or location, or gender, or philosophical persuasion. There may be distinctions of mortality based on age and physical fitness, but young people and old people are suffering together.
Today, most churches are empty, obeying the government mandates to restrict travel and gatherings which could speed the rate of infection. Businesses are shuttered except those deemed essential by bureaucrats who have assumed emergency powers from local to national levels, and neighbors look suspiciously at each other as some bow easily to government restrictions and others refuse in more libertine conviction. Much of the world today is huddled in their homes, afraid of what the future holds for them and their families, unable to escape from the pain and suffering now made present by a microscopic virus.
But this is not the first time a plague has scorched the earth, and it is unlikely to be the last. Our world is broken, and we live out our lives in this broken world with varying degrees of pain and death all around us. The Creator of this world tells us by His own Eternal Word that what He originally made perfect, we have corrupted by our own selfishness, pride, and evil intentions. It is by our own hand that this world exhibits such pain and destruction, by our own fault that fallen humanity is now wounded by the creatures which originally lived in harmony together. It was not our Creator’s design that we should be huddled in fear against an unseen viral assailant, but in cutting ourselves off from Him, we have made ourselves fragile and frail. Our fall into sin was a fall into death, as we abandoned the Lord of Life to pursue ends apart from Him. These depths into which we have fallen are full of misery and torment, where even the good creation of God becomes to us a source of death through the natural law we have violated.
It is from these depths that the Psalmist cried nearly 3000 years ago, and from which the people of God have cried since the time of the Fall. Yet the Psalmist’s cry is not one of despair, but of hope—a hope rooted in the Word of the Lord who promises to save His people from death in this world and the next, by saving them from the sin and evil which originally cast them into these hellish depths. It is a cry which acknowledges the reality of pain, the torment of hounding death, but which declares more powerfully the redemption and rescue of our Lord. Disease and pestilence have been known by every generation, and in every generation there has been a witness to the One who is greater than every disease and every pestilence.
Our Creator tells us that this was not His intention for His people or His world to fall into the depths we have plunged it, and that He has no intention of leaving it there, either. Even as we fell, He spoke His Word of promise that He would rescue all who would put their trust in Him. To a world now grown old under the curse of the Fall, that same Word of promise comes to our generation. The Word which was carried by the Prophets through war and exile, destruction and captivity, plague and persecution; the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us in our Lord Jesus Christ, who took our fall upon Himself, that He might lift everyone out of these horrible depths; the Word which the Apostles carried after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, through martyrdom and reviling, political oppression and devious intrigue; the Word which was carried by those who believed after them, through the rise and fall of empires, through flood and earthquake, through violent storms of nature and man; this is the Word which comes to you today, persisting beyond all time and place, bringing the Gospel promise of peace and salvation by grace through faith.
This living Word of redemption and hope, is Jesus. It is to Him that we call from the depths of our suffering, and it is He who has promised to carry us through every torment and every travail. It is Jesus alone who has born our suffering and our death through His Cross, and who shall lead us safely to an eternity restored to His fellowship. It is Jesus who shared the undimmed glory of the Father and the Spirit before the world began, and who has done all things necessary to gather us into that glorious fellowship forever. It is Jesus upon whom our souls wait with surer promise than the next coming morning, knowing that we are not abandoned in these depths, but that we shall see His redemption and resurrection from all our iniquities with our own eyes.
Though we suffer with our fallen world, we suffer as those who have a certain hope. Let the people of God call out from the depths of our pain and sorrow, with a faith which clings to the promise of Jesus’ salvation, and a repentance which turns from the ways of death which brought us all to our lowly state. And we shall see, in the fullness of time, not only our own restoration, but that of the whole world. Amen.