Hymn: "Lead On, O King Eternal" Ernest W. Shurleff, Henry T. Smart
Today's reading, across the multiple sources I use, included Psalm 126, Luke 6:20-26, 1 Corinthians 7:25-31, 1 Samuel 2:1-11, and Romans 15:1-13. But I accidentally read the wrong page at one point and, instead of reading the last two, actually read 1 Samuel 2:12-21 and Philippians 4:10-23. But this accident on my end worked out pretty well.
Psalm 126 is about God pouring out His blessings on His people again. It talks about God restoring the fortunes to Zion (in the ESV, some other translations use language about returning from captivity), but it is surprisingly vague about what kinds of blessings God offers. Many of the psalms have a direct object in mind: destroying Israel's enemies, pulling the author through a dark period, something fairly specific. But not this one. And the wording of the ESV may encourage a view that the fortunes God provides are, well, either fortune (in cash) or fortune (in success).
It is true that God sometimes blesses people with these things, but the rest of my reading was very keen on removing that as a first, or even as any form of, expectation.
Both Psalm 126 and the passage from Luke (which came from different parts of my reading plan unrelated to each other), as shown above, end on the promise that those who sow in reaping shall harvest in joy. But while the psalm begins with citing God's favor, Jesus in Luke has just called the poor, the hungry, those who weep, and the despised "blessed." While the specific verses in 1 Corinthians were mostly Paul's advice about whether or not to change one's marital status after becoming a Christian, the chapter has a general thrust about glorifying God with the circumstances one has in light of the form of this world passing away, instead of concerning oneself with radically change them. The portion of Philippians was concerned with how Paul has learned to be content with all circumstances and is now urging his readers to mirror that. And 1 Samuel was a cautionary section, about God opposing priests who put their own appetites and desires above their service to God and His commands.
While yesterday's reading was all about leaning on God for rest, today was all about leaning on God for so much more. His greatest blessing, in the end, is Himself. God is with us; when we mourn we can cry to Him, He provides when we are poor and hungry, He is making all things new and working in our circumstances to bring restoration to all things, He is our source of contentment.
"But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. "Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe [to you] who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. "Woe [to you] when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.
Luke 6:24-26 (NASB)
This is important to God, to the point that He stands opposed to those who rely on themselves and their own resources. Why? Because God knows that nothing we can ever do for ourselves, nothing we can ever work for or provide, will ever be as good as that which pours freely from Himself. When we envy what others have, when we seek to take our provision into our own hands, when we accumulate for ourselves, we stand opposed to the God who will gladly give all we need. Our desire for self-sufficiency, which is so important to modern western culture, is direct rebellion against God and a lapse of faith in His goodness and ability to know and meet our needs. Every comfort of this life will pass away, but God remains.
James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have [its] perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:1-6 (NASB)
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation