Saturday, 15th August 2020
by Pastor Soong Kok Kee
Psalm 130: 1-4 “From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer. Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.” (NLT)
The psalmist here cried out in despair to God. Despair often makes us feel isolated, lonely and distant from God and even from people. Nobody seems to be able or want to help us. The psalmist may have made a big blunder or committed a great sin. If it is despair over sin, it should not lead to self-pity, causing us to think more of ourselves than God. Instead, it should lead us to confess our sins before God and ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness. If we are overwhelmed by a problem, feeling sorry for ourselves will only increase our feeling of hopelessness. But instead, like the psalmist, we should cry out to God for he is the only one who can really help us.
The Covid 19 pandemic has brought many of us to our knees, hopefully, to pray. There are so many unknowns, so many new norms. Just this afternoon I had walked for about 20 minutes from church to the LRT station. I only realised I did not have a mask on only when the people there started staring at me. I could have been RM1,000 poorer! It’s going to take a while for all of us to get use to wearing a mask in public and even social distancing.
Everyone has been affected one way or another. Loss of job, pay cut, no handshake, no hugs, no touching, social distancing – all these have put so much stress on us physically, psychologically and emotionally that it has driven some people to depression and suicide. We should pray like the psalmist “Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer”. Only our Lord can get us out of our “depths of despair”.
There is a hint here that the psalmist may have committed a great sin for he says the Lord does not keep a record of our sins and if he does, who can survive? Yes, when God forgives, he forgives completely, breaking down any wall or hindrance between us and him. There is no sin so big he will not forgive and no sin so small we do not need his forgiveness. Brothers and sisters, the Bible reminds us that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23)
The moment we come before him to confess whatever sins we may have committed, he will surely “offer forgiveness” so we may learn to fear (revere) him. When we do that, our God will not hold anything against us, so we are free to tell him everything in our hearts – the darkest secrets that no one knows, just him and us. How reassuring, how comforting.
In a cemetery not far from New York City is a head-stone engraved with a single word : FORGIVEN. The message is simple and unembellished. There is no date of birth, no date of death, no epitaph. There is only a name and the solitary word forgiven. But that is the greatest word that could ever be said of any man or woman or that could be written on any gravestone. God is honoured and worshipped because He alone can clear our record of all our sins.
PRAYER: Father God, we come to you in our despair and hopelessness crying to you for help. So many of us and our friends have been badly effected one way or another by the pandemic. There is no one we can turn to or call on to help us except you. In our panic to face the pandemic, we may have sinned consciously or unconsciously. But we know Lord, that you are always ready to forgive us of our sins, past, present and future. We claim your promise that as far as the east is from the west, so far has you removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12) and will not keep any record of our sins, all completely wiped off. Thank you Lord, thank you. In Jesus most precious name we pray AMEN.
1 耶和华啊，我从深处向你求告。2 主啊，求你听我的声音！愿你侧耳听我恳求的声音！
3 主耶和华啊，你若究察罪孽，谁能站得住呢？4 但在你有赦免之恩，要叫人敬畏你。
盼望新冠肺炎大流行使我们许多人跪下来祷告。 有许多未知数，有许多新规范。 就在今天下午，我从教堂步行到轻轨站大约有二十分钟。当那里的人们开始盯着我看时，我才意识到自己没有戴口罩。 我本来可以就这样少了一千令吉！ 我们所有人都需要一段时间才能适应在公共场合戴口罩及保持社交距离。
每个人都在某方面受到影响。 失业、减薪、不能握手、不能拥抱、不能有肢体接触，保持社交距离— 所有这些给我们的身心灵造成了极大的压力，以致使一些人陷入抑郁和自杀。 我们应该像诗人一样祈祷：“主啊，求你垂听我的呼求！”只有我们的主才能使我们摆脱“绝望的深渊”。
这里暗示着诗人可能犯了一个大罪，因为他说主没有究察罪孽，若有的话，谁能站得住呢？是的，上帝的宽恕是完全的，打破了我们与他之间的任何隔离墙或障碍。 没有太大的罪，他不会原谅，没有太小的罪，我们不需要他的宽恕。 弟兄姐妹们，圣经提醒我们，我们都犯了罪，亏缺了上帝的荣耀。 (罗马书3:23)
当我们来到他面前承认我们可能犯下的任何罪恶时，他肯定会“饶恕”，而我们也便学会敬畏他。 当我们这样做时，我们的上帝不会歧视我们，因此我们可以自由地告诉他内心的一切— 除了他和我们，没有人知道的最黑暗的秘密。多么令人放心，多么令人安慰。
在离纽约市不远的一个墓地里，有一块墓碑上刻着一个英文字：被赦免‘forgiven’。这个信息简单明了。 没有出生日期，没有死亡日期，没有墓志铭。 只有一个名字和被赦免一字。然而，这是一个适合任何男女，或者写在任何墓碑上的词语。 上帝是我们所尊敬和崇拜的，因唯独他可以解除我们一切的罪孽。
祷告：父上帝， 我们在绝望中向你求助。我们和许多朋友都受到了这流行病的严重影响。 除了你，我们还可以向谁寻求帮助呢？在面对大流行的恐慌中，我们可能有意或无意地犯罪了。 但是我们知道，主，你总是愿意赦免我们过去、现在和将来的罪过。东离西有多远，你使我们的过犯离我们也有多远。（诗篇103：12）你不会究察我们的罪恶，一切罪都被彻底抹去了。 谢谢主，谢谢。 我们奉耶稣最宝贵的名祷告，阿门。