As many of you know, I went to the Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago a few weeks back. I'm still processing the gigantic info-dump that I was a recipient of, but for me, far more than the good examples of preaching Jesus from the Old Testament and D. A. Carson's theological woodshedding of Rob Bell, the most significant message was James McDonald's sermon on Psalm 25.
A little background is probably in order. I went to the Gospel Coalition also in 2009, at a time when I was going through the most painful turmoil I have ever known and out of which circumstances I lost friends. In those days, I felt more hurt, angry, and betrayed than I ever have before or since. I did not know what to do or where to turn, and so I called out to God, and He answered me. Still, when I went back this year, there were emotions that I did not expect to encounter awaiting me there.
Into this stepped Pastor McDonald and Psalm 25, which he reminded me was probably written when David had fled from Absalom. Hurt and betrayal abounded, no doubt. And out of this David wrote and sang, and wondered, in James' words, "Do you feel me, God?" Do You know what it's like to be me? It's a constant question that God's people have whenever they are hurting and in pain, whether Job's epic suffering, when he called out "Do You have eyes of flesh? Do you see?" to my much less poetic prayers in my own days of trouble.
I thank God that, whatever the situation, God's answer is always "YES." In fact, I know that is is "YES," not simply because of the Scriptures, which tell me so, but because of Jesus. He knows pain. He knows suffering. He knows betrayal, hurt, pain, loss, the whole gamut of human experience. And because of that, I take comfort and find refuge in God's presence and his strength.
This message, more than maybe any other, I've heard in a while, reaffirmed to me God's love and care for me. And if you are hurting person, I hope you will find its reaffirmations helpful too.