Praise the Lord! I am so encouraged by Psalm 147. The Psalmist writes, “How good it is to sing praises to our God” and indeed, it feels good to sing praises to our God. Why are we singing praises to our God? We are singing praises because God is gracious. He loves us even while we are sinners and fall short of God’s glory. And God came down to us, took on flesh, and lived among us, in order to be with us. God came down to us. And because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we are saved through our faith in Jesus, and whatever we pray in the name of Jesus, we know that we have a high priest who understands and knows our suffering and advocates on our behalf.
What I find most comforting is that The Lord builds us up. And God gathers us up, even if we are outcasts and the marginalized. God is a healer! God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
1 Praise the Lord!
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted,
and binds up their wounds.
(Psalm 147: 1-3)
Also in our Gospel reading today, we find Jesus healing the sick.
32That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. (Mark 1:32-34)
The crowds, in fact the whole city, gathered around Jesus and brought all who are sick, meaning those who were physical ill, and also those who were possessed with demons, here I think we can understand as those who are emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually in need of help. And behold! Jesus heals! Jesus cures! Jesus cured the many who were sick with all kinds of diseases and cast out demons, commanding them not to reveal Jesus’ identity.
God does not stop at healing us. God loves us. God knows us. God strengthens us. Tim Keller, now retired pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan preached about being known and being loved and it made an impression on me:
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God.” – Tim Keller
To be loved but not known is love that cannot satisfy us. To be known and not loved is devastating. To be fully known and not loved means we are not accepted; we are not good enough. But to be known AND to be loved, that is when we find true acceptance and feel the love that builds us up. Yes, a lot like God’s love. And this Psalm expresses God’s love as being gracious to us, building us up, gathering us even if we are outcasts, healing our broken hearts and tending to our wounds. This shows God’s love that has power to heal and to strengthen us.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;
he casts the wicked to the ground. (Psalm 147:5-6)
God loves us while knowing us. God who is abundant in power and God’s understanding beyond measure, lifts up the downtrodden and casts the wicked to the ground. Knowing that we are down trodden, seeing our broken hearts and wounds, noticing that we are outcasts, God gathers us, heals us, and lifts us up.
We don’t just barely survive as God’s children. We are healed and made whole. We were made to thrive. As we realize God loves us and when we respond to God’s love by loving God and waiting on God, we will be renewed:
31 but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Haven’t we all been feeling weary and drained of hope and energy? Those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength! We will soar like eagles! We will run and not be weary. We shall walk and not faint. When we respond to God’s love and love God, God empowers us. But for what purpose? Well, when in doubt, look to Jesus for answers! As we read in the Gospel of Mark, look at what Jesus says after he cures those with various sickness of body and spirit:
37When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 39And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:37-39)
We are healed, strengthened to fly like eagles and run and not be weary in order that we are equipped to do as Jesus did. He answered to his disciples when they told him that the crowds were searching for Jesus, “Let us go onto the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do” (Mark 1:38). What message is Jesus proclaiming? What message might we proclaim following Jesus? Jesus proclaimed the good news! Our Salvation. God’s love. God’s saving grace. Of course! But I want us also to reflect on how Jesus shared the good news. Jesus proclaimed not only through his teachings and parables, but he healed the sick, cast out demons, and ate with the outcasts. Jesus’ life itself is a testimony. Let ours be a testimony also. Let our actions speak loudly of God’s grace and God’s love. Let our lives speak of the way God heals us and strengthens us to soar like eagles and run and not be weary. Let us be renewed in strength not by our abilities, but by turning towards God and following Jesus.