In moments of hubris and daydream, I long to create a solution to the weights and strains and sins of the world, or at least a reasonable fix to the weights of my own worries, stresses, and shortcomings. But the psalmist requires me to confess the truth: “If sin and sorrow and evil were measured, no one could stand under the weight of them” (Ps. 130:3, ap).
Wishing to be supernaturally strong and wise and righteous so that I could manage all things gets me in trouble more often than not. I tell myself that I’m trying to be a good steward of my responsibilities to myself, my work, and my family; yet still I bite off more than I can chew, so to speak. I try to fit two days of work into one. I pile up deadlines. I don’t visit the doctor. I brush off offers of assistance. I try to manage myself so that no one else notices my limitations or fatigue or disappointment, not because I mind the flaws but because I don’t want to burden others. Everyone else is carrying the weight of the world too.
None of us can stand under it all.
When I was a young girl, I wanted to be either Miss Piggy or Wonder Woman; both are strong “can do” characters who take care of themselves and others (Miss Piggy with her fist, Wonder Woman with her lasso). They are larger than life, stronger than average. They could stand on their own. Yet I am not superhero nor Muppet nor deity.
When I remember to confess my humanity, I also remember the One who can save me from the weight of the world that I’ve been trying to lift. “You, O Lord, have the power to free us from the expectation of godly goodness, of superhuman might, of eternal restoration,” praises the psalmist (ap).
I am wonderfully made by you, O God, but I am not a god. I confess that I cannot live by my own strength and cannot rescue my own soul from sin and sorrow. Amen.
Ezekiel sets the stage for the readings this week. In a vision, the prophet sees a seemingly hopeless situation, yet God restores flesh to the bones and brings them back to life by breathing into them. The psalmist calls out to God from the depths of devastation and waits confidently for God’s redemption. Paul plays off the double meaning of the Greek word pneuma: “breath” and “spirit.” Just as Ezekiel’s dry bones are brought back through the breath of God, so are we raised through the Spirit of God. The Lazarus story provides a bookend resurrection story for the week. Here Jesus demonstrates in the physical realm the spiritual realities described in the other passages. These resurrection stories point us toward Jesus’ resurrection and ultimately the promise of our own.
Read Ezekiel 37:1-14. When have you heard from God directly or through others in times of devastation? How did you respond?
Read Psalm 130. How can you listen for signs of hope and look for God’s voice?
Read Romans 8:6-11. What helps you remember that you cannot save yourself and to put your trust in God?
Read John 11:1-45. When have you been disappointed in God’s timing or response? What would be different now if God had met your expectations then?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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