As we continue our Psalms message series this week, we will sit with Psalm 130. It begins: "Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord" (Psalm 130:1).
In Jim Collin's book, Good to Great, he shares the story about how Admiral Stockdale served in Vietnam and was captured before being put into a POW camp. There, he learned an attitude that allowed him to survive. Some POW’s would try to encourage themselves with unrealistic optimism (they were going to be rescued by Christmas). However, in their optimism, they neglected to be brutally honest about their current reality. Meanwhile, other POW’s would face the brutal facts about their situation. They sat in despair and became hopeless. Eventually they became depressed and suicidal.
Admiral Stockdale was able to hold both the brutal facts and unwavering hope together. They seem contradictory; however, this tension brought reality and perseverance.
The brutal facts are all around us. With so many contentious issues filling the headlines (and our minds) today, it may feel like we are in a deep hole.
Perhaps, Billy Joel was right... "we didn't start the fire." But, the reality is that we are in "the depths." A deep, deep hole. Perhaps we've always been in a deep, deep hole since nothing is new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). That's for another blog.
Like Admiral Stockdale, we need to embrace the brutal facts and unwavering hope together. They seem contradictory; however, this tension brings reality and perseverance.
Some put their unwavering hope only in reason and proofs; systems and theories. Others only spiritualize hope or even take it to the point of unrealistic optimism. Unwavering hope is found in that someone outside of ourselves who actually comes and tangibly rescues us.
"Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25).
That's the kind of hope we need today. And we have it.
The truth is, we have a better hope and a different Savior than the world has to offer. It isn't only better systems or deeper reasoning. It isn't only a deeper sense of the spiritual or being a voice of advocacy. Our better hope and different Savior is the truth, love, and grace of Jesus who has come to inclusively save every human being (and even all creation!) from the hole we all find ourselves in.
Since we have this hope in Jesus, I wonder what it would it look like for us to give this hope away to people "in the depths" with us. It's another way to seek the Lord as to how best to love God, love people, and live like Jesus.
Let's give it a try.
"Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God" (1 Peter 2:16).
"Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's case" (Isaiah 1:17).
"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7).
"You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God" (2 Corinthians 9:11).
"No one should seek their own good, but the good of others" (1 Corinthians 10:24).
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise" (Philippians 4:8).
I can't wait to spend more time with you in Psalm 130 this week.
Love you more than you know. - pt
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor.