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Daily Reformation, Isaiah 38:17-20
From the Reformer
The time of grace returns when the heart is enlivened by the promise of God’s mercy. It soliloquizes: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Can you see nothing but law, sin, death, and hell? Is there no grace, no forgiveness, no joy, peace, life, heaven, no Christ and God? Trouble me no more, my soul. Hope in God who has not spared His own dear Son but has given Him into death for thy sins.” When the Law carries things too far, say: “Mister Law, you are not the whole show. There are other and better things than you. They tell me to trust in the Lord.”
—Martin Luther, Table Talk
Pulling It Together
The easiest thing to do, when conviction of your continuing sin drives you to despair, is to give up. The soul laments that it is pitiful and cannot do right. With Paul it cries out, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Rom 7:15) With the Psalmist it confesses, “I am a worm…” (Psa 22:6a) One does not get much lower than a manic worm. The condition of a manic worm is an image that is consistent with the human condition. We are easily enthused to do the right thing but are often such lowlifes, that we do not pull it off. After a spell, we become discouraged and give up. The harder thing is to have and maintain faith.
There is another who it seemed was a “worm and not a man.” He was “scorned by mankind and despised by the people.” (Psa 22:6b) He did what you never could: he accomplished the very thing he set out to do. Jesus carried out his saving mission for you—because you cannot. Trust the Lord that, despite your lowness, you are delivered from the pit—and from your mania.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers