"Even in darkness, light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man."
- Psalm 112:4
I'll confess. I've been studying Scripture since I was sixteen, and I had to look up Amos in the table of contents to find it. ;o)
It was an interesting gamut of Scripture for today's reading, wasn't it? I love how all of the selections balanced each other out to present the "big picture" of how God is at work in the world, and to give us a glimpse into how He's been at work throughout history.
* First there were the morning psalms, that talked about how the God who created the entire universe and knows the very stars by name, knows His people, too - and heals them, and provides for them, just as He provides for all of creation, and those psalms called us to begin our day by worshiping our great and mighty God, along with all of creation.
* Then there were the dark words of Amos - words that could terrify us if they were the only words we heard... but did you catch God's heart for justice in those words? There was never condemnation without cause under the law. The sins He speaks of in these verses are sins that harm people, and He is not okay with that happening. (He's still not okay with that, and we shouldn't be either.) Justice demands a penalty for sin... and while this may not be good news if you're the person sinning, it is good news when you're being sinned against. Justice is coming, and you can hope for it, with the expectation of having your hope met, because justice is His heart for the oppressed and marginalized.
But what about when we sin? In all fairness, justice should be demanded of us, too, for "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23)...
* But check it out - the next words we read from 1 Thessalonians 5:9 say this: "...God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." Grace paid the penalty demanded of us by justice. "He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him." (v. 10)
* I love how the end of that passage ties into the last verse of the gospel reading in Luke, too: "Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (1 Thess 5:11) "By standing firm you will gain life." (Luke 21:19) Isn't it so true that when we encourage each other, standing firm in our faith is so much easier than when we're going through tough and sometimes even scary things on our own?
* And then we're back to the psalms again, ending the day in praise - celebrating the truth that "He provided redemption for His people...." (Psalm 111:9)
Wherever you are today, whatever the circumstances of your life - your story is wrapped up in the greater story that God is writing - a story that promises: no matter how dark things get here on earth, there is always hope.