SUNDAY’S SCRIPTURE: Psalm 118 (New International Version)

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”

19 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 

22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. 25 Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.  

28 You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.


            Have you had this specific thought lately: “How bad can it get?” That question is a pretty constant thought the runs through my mind once or twice a week. When we look around us … in our town, and state, and country, and world … it makes us wonder, how bad can it really get before this whole thing collapses?

On the other hand, have you had this specific thought lately: “How good can it get?” I don’t ask that question enough. Because frankly people, God is doing some amazingly beautiful things all around us.

I wonder what your eyes see first: How bad it is … or how good it is. Trust me – it makes a big difference!

Psalm 118 arises out of the constant questioning by the Jewish peoples: “How bad can it get?” Because life had really gotten pretty bad for them. As you can read in the Psalm, they have been rejected and captured and exiled to Babylon. Families split apart. The Temple destroyed. The practice of their faith has become a relic of the past. Here they are, God’s Chosen People, the people called to bring the one true God to the world, scattered and tattered. They were wondering, “How bad can it get?”

But as the Psalm tells us … the people who have been rejected are now the “chief cornerstone.” The nation of Israel is no doubt at one their lowest points in history. They have failed God. They have lost their religion. They have lost their community of fellow Jews. They have lost their home … the city of David … to the enemies.

It’s hard for us to imagine what it would be like to suffer in this way. But think about it, as you’re complaining about how bad it could get for you. Let’s see: screwing up at work doesn’t compare; breaking a leg doesn’t compare; having a car accident doesn’t compare; paying $4 for a gallon of milk doesn’t compare; and even running out of gas somewhere between nowhere and the end of the world doesn’t compare.

On the other hand, most have us do have a situation (or more than one) that seems like it is as bad as it can get. Because whatever happens to us personally are always the most challenging parts of our life. For example, the war in Ukraine is about as bad as it gets for the Ukrainians. And even though it hurts us to think about it, it doesn’t hurt us like it hurts them. To us, it’s across the world. To them, it’s personal. It’s their own family. It’s their own home. It’s their own church. It’s their own city. You see … it’s them. Not us. And this is a big difference, no matter how upset you are by the war.

Still, there are things in your life right now that have you wondering, “How bad can it get?” Privately, think about what those things are for you. Maybe it’s just one thing. Maybe more. But these are the things that kick us in the gut and pull the floor out from underneath our lives.

Recently in our Sunday messages, I have talked about the prophets Samuel and Ezekiel. In the story of choosing David as the next king, Samuel the Prophet teaches us that God does not see things as we see them. God has the advantage of seeing the “big picture.” In fact, God sees the ultimate picture. And in the Book of Ezekiel, we learned about the power of God to turn ashes into life. All it takes is a breath … the breath of life … which only comes from God.

So, you may think you have it bad, and you could certainly be right. But you also have it good, because for every bad thing that happens in your life, God is already working to make it good. We may not have the eyes to see the good yet, but remember, it is always there and always working.

Try this: when your mind gets caught up in your troubles, give yourself a pause, step away from the world for a moment of two, and be alone with God and listen. Quietly. God already knows every issue you are having that creates worry, or fear, or intense anxiety, or unbearable sadness. So, what you want to listen for from God is how God is working right in that moment in your life.

It’s happening. Trust God. Samuel did … and he found a young ruddy king in the backfields of Jessie’s land taking care of sheep. I wonder what David was thinking that day BEFORE Samuel showed up. Maybe, he thought, “How bad can it get?” But God was already working.

Ezekiel saw God at work. For starters, he had the eyes to see. And from looking, he wondered. “How bad can it get?” But God was already working, and before God was done, new life had arisen from dust and bones. For sure, Ezekiel thought this was the end of the line for God’s “Chosen People.” I mean, could it get any worse?

Now, take your own unpredictable and precious life. Where is God absent from your life, at least as you see it? Then, after spending a little time with God, look around with new eyes. Not to offend any of you, but the answer is … YES, it could get worse. And it might. But … it doesn’t have to. Use your new God-gifted eyes to see that in the very midst of the hardest thing in your life right now … God’s got it. Always has. Always will.

See you Sunday in worship!                                                                              Pastor Bob <><