The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
(Psalm 145:18-19 ESV)
–By Elizabeth Ahlman
When I was just a child, I was afflicted by terrible anxiety. The attacks would come on so fiercely, that sometimes I would almost black out from fear. As I grew, the anxiety stayed with me, even as I learned how to cope and “talk myself down.” Yet, there were many times in my life, and sometimes still are, when the darkness of anxiety and the fear of the unknown or of the known and uncontrollable have overpowered me. In tears and trembling, I cry out to God, my Father. Sometimes with sobs. Sometimes with words. In those deepest moments of fear, I call on He Who has promised to draw near.
Maybe, for you, the struggle is not anxiety, but something else. Maybe there is something of such great sadness that you cannot bear it. Maybe you are crushed by your sinful self and defeated by your inability to overcome your sins. Perhaps you are persecuted by hurtful words or physical means precisely because you call on the Lord. Whatever it is that brings you to your knees, you cry out to the Lord for His deliverance and comfort.
And, as the Psalmist confesses, He does draw near. In the midst of the things that cause us to fear the world and all that is in it, He draws near. He redirects our fear to fear of Him, to awe of the One Who calms all our fears and has won the victory over the things of this world that are fearful and cruel. He comforts us in our sadness and speaks words of forgiveness into our ears. The Lord God of all heaven and earth hears our cries and saves us.
The Gospel reading which is paired with this Psalm in the three-year lectionary is the one in which Jesus tells the Jews “I am the bread of life” (John 6:22-35). They sought Him because they desired to have more bread for their stomachs, but Jesus has something better to give. He has come to give His own body into death. In His death and resurrection, He hears our cries and saves us. He gives us to desire that which He has to offer us: forgiveness, life and salvation. He fulfills that which we now desire through the preaching of His Word, our Baptisms and His Holy Supper. In these things, He draws near to us. He makes us His own, saves us and sustains us, feeding us the bread from heaven which is His very own body and blood for our life. In these promises and gifts we take refuge and rest from our fears, sadnesses, failures and from those who persecute us. The Bread which Christ has to give will never run out, never be overturned, no matter what we are facing. So we cry out and we know that God hears, God draws near and God in Christ saves us.
Let us Pray: Lord God, Heavenly Father, as we face those things in our lives which cause us to call out to You for help and relief, continuously hear our prayers, draw near to us and give us Your good gifts so that we may endure in hope and rest in You in the midst of all that life in this fallen world brings; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- Read more about work in our region as our missionaries bring the Promises of the Bread of Heaven to those who have never heard them before.