The psalm moves from placing full trust in God to a painful acknowledgment of our own human frailty. Whether rich or poor, powerful or disempowered, “human beings are nothing but a breath” (v. 9, ceb). The psalmist strongly contrasts humanity’s limitations with God’s goodness. We wonder then about a person’s ability to effect change or make any difference in the world. If placed on the world’s scales, even a breath of air is weightier than a single person. Rather than placing our confidence in wealth or power, we trust in God’s power to redeem situations. The psalmist takes comfort in the vastness of God’s steadfast love.
We may be tempted to list the ways that others have wronged us or failed to live up to their potential as children of God. As humans we instinctually compare ourselves to others in an attempt to measure worth. We easily forget our call to take comfort in God’s strength and goodness rather than to despair over others’ actions. God holds in the balance both power and love, maintaining a tension between autocratic authority and sentimental, passive love.
“Power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.” God remains faithful even if we are a mere breath in creation. When we focus on the goodness and fullness of God, we move from pointing our fingers to raising our hands in awe—a transformation made possible only by God.
Pardoning God, help us see and know the fullness of your love. When we are tempted to measure others by our own understanding of what is right, convict us. Empower us to be people who seek comfort in your love. Amen.
Things are not always as they seem. To Jonah it appears that the people of Nineveh are beyond hope, so he runs away rather than going to preach to them. God has other plans; to Jonah’s surprise, the Ninevites turn to God. To our eyes, social standing and wealth may seem to divide people into different classes; but the psalmist declares that in God’s economy, all are equal and will be repaid the same. Paul echoes the theme of the temporary nature of all things in this life; they should not be our source of security. Jesus opens his ministry in Mark by proclaiming that God is breaking into history to overthrow what has been accepted as the way things are. Sometimes God’s perspective is not our perspective.
• Read Jonah 3:1-5, 10. When have you experienced God’s call to a task you would have preferred not to undertake? What happened? What did you learn about God?
• Read Psalm 62:5-12. When have you experienced God as refuge and fortress? How do you actively embody God’s hope and offer it to others?
• Read 1 Corinthians 7:29-31. How lightly do you hold your job, your relationships, your possessions, given the passing nature of the present age?
• Read Mark 1:14-20. When have you heard Jesus call to you to follow? How did you respond?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.