I’m writing this after spending most of the last 24 hours in bed with the flu. I’ll spare you the details, but it ended up affecting everyone but Chelsea, my 19 year old. The family we invited over for dinner last night also succumbed. It was a little special "gift" we gave them… What’s been running through my mind at various points is the opening to Psalm 130: Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! I’m not sure what "depths" the Psalmist was going through, but I definitely feel like I’ve been there. No motivation, no strength, no desire to do anything but stay right there in bed. But even when my physical pain is the worst, it’s not my greatest problem. My sin is. If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. If God did not forgive us, we could not fear Him. We could not love, reverence, and honor Him. We would be without hope and without God. (Eph. 2:12) But because we have God’s own promise that He will forgive all our iniquities, we can have hope, even in the bleakest circumstances. Therefore, the Psalmist turns to his only source of comfort. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. I find it instructive that in the midst of his trial, the Psalmist wasn’t first waiting for health, or deliverance, or provision. He was waiting for the Lord. He knew any help he would receive would be a result of God’s intervention and kindness. Whatever our need is, ultimately God is the answer. So he concludes with an exhortation: O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. Did the Psalmist’s trial make him aware of his need for God? Or did his difficulties simply press out of him the fruit of his ongoing devotion to the Lord? Probably both. In either case, he has seen enough of God to encourage others. Hope in the Lord! He gives steadfast love and plentiful redemption! Once again, his focus returns to our greatest need – reconciliation to God. If God can forgive my countless acts of rebellion, pride, and selfishness, how can I doubt for a moment that he won’t prove faithful in my present situation? Sickness can have a wonderfully clarifying effect, because our perspective is closest to reality whenever we feel our need the most. Without question, the greatest benefit of the past 24 hours is that I’m more aware of who I am even when I’m NOT sick – a helpless creature who depends on my Creator’s sustaining power for every single breath. I’ve been reminded that physical health is not a right, but a gift. Sickness, persecution, confusion, and more, are designed to make me more aware of my need for grace, and God’s abundant provision through the Gospel. And for that I will be eternally grateful.