Today’s psalms are extolling God’s goodness, singing how the Lord sets prisoners free and lifts up those who are bowed down. In the reading from Luke we find Jesus doing just that. He healed the Roman centurion’s servant because he was asked to do it and then raised the dead man without being asked, probably out of compassion for a widow in the devastating situation of having no one to support her (the reason the Bible keeps reiterating God’s concern for orphans and widows).
In contrast to Jesus’ life-giving actions, Malachi had to censure the priests of his day who perverted justice and religious tradition, calling evil good and complaining when God did not respond as they wanted. God condemned the priests for causing people to stumble because of their teaching. Jesus, too, was exercised by people who were never satisfied with what God was doing but always found something to complain about. Things had slipped badly from the delight of the psalmist in God’s goodness!
Then there was John the Baptist, in prison. Jesus didn’t set that captive free despite John’s unwavering fidelity in preparing the way for Jesus. If anyone could expect God’s blessing of release, surely it was John? Instead, Jesus told John’s disciples to report all the good things that were happening and to challenge John not to take offence that they weren’t happening to him.
Sometimes that same challenge comes to us. We have to learn to trust God’s life-giving goodness that we see elsewhere in the world, even when we do not experience it ourselves. We can complain and blame God or, like John, we can trust that we will find blessing in not taking offence at God.
What do you think causes God offence in the world today? What can you do about it?
Look back on your life: have you experienced the gratuitous goodness of God at any time? How do these experiences help you to remain faithful to God in times when God’s blessing seems to be withheld?
Lord Jesus Christ, please help me to follow your example and bring light and life in the world, trusting you to care for me and my needs as I serve others. Amen.