I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment;
his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity,
‘I shall never be moved.’
By your favor, O Lord,
you had established me as a strong mountain;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.
To you, O Lord, I cried,
and to the Lord I made supplication:
‘What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
O Lord, be my helper!’
You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
This morning’s reading reminds me of the one about two cowboys who were out riding the range on a bitterly cold day when one of them jumped off his horse and picked up a piece of a frozen cow patty. He rubbed it on his mouth for a moment and then threw it away. As he remounted his horse, his pard gave him an odd look, so he grunted, “Chapped lips.” “I see,” said his pard. “That helps ’em heal, does it?” “Nope,” said the first cowboy, “but it sure stops me from lickin’ them.”
And anyone who’s ever had chapped lips would tell you that constantly licking them keeps them constantly chapped! Sure, licking may provide temporary relief but eventually that saliva dries off, often leaving your lips even more chapped than before. Oh, what a sinister condition it is to have chapped lips! You can’t blame that cowboy for finding a clever, yet disgusting, solution to the condition. But thank goodness we’ve come up with a more palatable alternative in the form of chapstick. It turns out the cure for chapped lips is continuous moisturization as provided by the oils and balms of chapstick. They don’t dry up as quickly as saliva.
This is all to say that for any given illness or disease there can be a variety of ways to heal it, some more palatable than others. And that’s a good thing because this world is full of sickness. Sickness is all around us in this broken world of ours. Sickness is not only around us but within us. Each of us carries a great sickness within us–the sickness of sin. And there are a variety of remedies for this sickness but only one true cure for it: Jesus Christ himself. But for all other illnesses or diseases there are a variety of cures and this is a good thing because we all don’t share the same access to the same types of medicine. It’s good knowing that the medicine we do have access to can be just as effective in healing us.
Of course, I’m not an expert on the ethics of modern medical care but I do consider it a blessing that there are varieties of cures for the illnesses and diseases of this world. And I stand firm in the belief that all healing finds its source in God. God is the true source of ALL healing. It is foolish to place your trust and faith in anything other than God to heal you. It is God working through science and medicine to bring about healing. It is God working through the people in our lives to bring about healing. It is God working through us to bring about healing in the world around us. God is the one and only source of all healing and to believe otherwise is foolish.
In our psalm for today, we heard David praising God for the healing in his life. We don’t know what ailed David but we do know he was afflicted. David was afraid that his enemies would somehow benefit from his sickness and he was frustrated that God had restricted his ability to give God praise through sickness. But even in his fear and frustration, he found a way to rejoice in God’s healing: “O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.” God restored David’s health and wholeness and replenished his hope. “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime.” Who among us, in the throes of agony and sickness, hasn’t somehow felt that God was punishing us for something? Surely we’ve done something to warrant such pain and suffering! God must be angry with us! Whether or not God is punishing us or angry with us, David reminds us that even his anger is temporary. God doesn’t stay angry forever. God’s deep and abiding love for us keeps him from staying angry forever. It’s far more productive to dwell on his love rather than his anger. His love is everlasting! All suffering comes to an end eventually. God’s love and mercy and grace eventually are revealed to those who love him.
David’s powerful words of assurance recall the same assurance found in the words of the prophet, Jeremiah. Recall he was a prophet who was tormented most of his life for speaking God’s words of judgment to the people around him. He was not a well-liked prophet to say the least. But even he found assurance and hope in God when he cried out, “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved; for you are my praise.” (17:14) Like David, he, too, understood full well that his healing and salvation came from God and God alone. Friends, what a blessing it is to be healed by God! Not only does He cure all sickness but He does it for all of us. His cures are for all of us. Recall the one and only cure for sin? Jesus Christ! Right, and Christ died and rose again so that ALL may have eternal life! ALL may live a life without sin! Simply live for him! Peter wrote in his first letter, “he himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (2:24) God heals all sickness, including sin, for all people!
There are a variety of remedies and cures for the sickness of this broken world and this is a good thing. What’s even better, there is a cure for the greatest sickness of this world: sin. Jesus Christ took our sins to the grave to free us from our bondage to them. We no longer have to sin. We can choose to live for Christ! The book of James says, “the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.” (5:15) Let us rejoice alongside David in God’s great gift of healing. Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.