Text: Psalm 38:1-22 Don't you love that our heavenly Father uses great big heaping messes of people to accomplish his great big plans? David is no exception. If anything, David is THE example of a great big heaping mess of a person. Adultery. Murder. Pride. We see these things laid out for us throughout the accounts of his life, and yet we have these sweeping prayers of repentance and pleas for mercy displayed in the Psalms. Numerous reasons account for why David was donned "a man after God's own heart," but perhaps one of the greatest was that he had such a profound understanding of how the sickness of sin crushes our Father's heart.
I mean, in 2 Samuel 12:1-23, David has taken another man's wife, conceived a child with her, and ultimately plotted the man's murder. The prophet Nathan tells David that along with these sins he also caused God's enemies to blaspheme His name, so as a result the child would die. And David's response is where we see the heart of the man. For seven days while the child battles, so does David by "inquiring of God for the child" and fasting, lying prostrate on the ground, and refusing any assistance for the duration.
And when the child passes away, David stands up, washes and anoints himself and then WORSHIPS the Lord.
How is it that a father stricken with grief is able to worship even during the loss of a child? Could it be that while David battled and fasted, God drew near and changed a sinner's heart? Fasting is always about drawing near to the heart of theFather.
So in Psalm 38, we consider the heart of this man as he describes the wretched sickness of sin afflicting him. Was this his cry during that seven day fast? "Anguished in my bones, carrying sins too awful and heavy to bear, benumbed, badly crushed, groaning in agitation in my heart, sorrow continually before me, full of anxiety because of my sin."
And I, too, am one great big heaping mess.
I have carried a burden too much to bear. I have felt abandoned by family and friends, left alone to carry it. I have walked through seasons where sorrow and anxiety were continually before me. Health has failed me because of my mourning and sickness in spirit. David and me? You and me? We're not that different. We've all got our own messiness, and in these soul-crushing moments, the weight of His hand is too much to bear and I am forced to my knees, sometimes--like David--face against the floor.
Pressing to the ground and into the Father's heart in prayer and fasting. Allowing God to draw me near and change me. Longing for resurrection and redemption. Longing for Easter.
In the winter of our souls, the darkness of the night,
we long for Easter, for resurrection.
And this, THIS is the point of fasting, of Lent.
To long for resurrection and redemption, to long for Easter,
But beautiful things come from beautiful messes, and when I recognize and confess my sin, God draws me near, into his beautiful plans. Just as David affirmed, "My hope is in You, O Lord; You will answer O Lord my God," (Psalm 38:15), we can rest assured that Jesus has gone before us and allows us to draw near to a holy God who answers and is the source of our hope. As the author of Hebrews writes:
"Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Hebrews 10:19-25 (NASB)
Praise the Lord for His perfect sacrifice that resurrects and redeems, that allows us to enter the holy place and draw near! Praise the Lord for Easter!