No matter who we are or how young or old we are, we’ve all had troubles. The last part of Psalms 31:7 says, “You have known the troubles of my soul.” Among the central figures of the major religions, only one—Jesus—claimed to be both divine and human, all-knowing and yet personally acquainted with grief. The chapter ends with Psalms 31:24, “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.”
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches the crowds that gather around him by telling them stories (he was a creator of fiction!), which turns out to be a fulfillment of prophecy written in Psalms 78:2, according to Matthew 13:35. “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.” Of course, his stories didn’t merely entertain the people but also stirred up their minds. The will of God meets the will of mankind.
God uses Paul to stir up the people’s minds during his journeys around the Mediterranean Sea. In one synagogue after another, Paul reasons with the people about Jesus, so much so that those in Ephesus asked him to stay longer. As he left, Paul said, “I will return to you again if God wills.” I will, if God wills. One of the greatest mysteries of the Bible is how God’s will interacts with the human will. God doesn’t dictate our every action, doesn’t override our intentions, and doesn’t ignore the decisions we make. Yet, he sets boundaries, gives wisdom if we ask, and promises to make us more like him. It’s a meeting of wills. He’s a free agent—we’re free agents on a smaller scale. The mystery continues to unfold.
From readings for Day 7
Exodus 19-20, Psalms 30, Matthew 13:1-23, Acts 18:18-28
and Day 8
Exodus 21-23, Psalms 31, Matthew 13:24-43, Acts 19:1-22