May 3, 2020
There are some constants in life — the proverbial death and taxes among them. Another constant is change. We can be certain that very few things in life are static; most things change. Among the changes in life are cultural norms. Consider the story of one John Fisher and Lizzie Clark, just a little over 100 years ago. Fisher was described as “young, debonair and high-collared,” Miss Clark “a demure maid” who looked older than her 15 years. They were strangers on a train near Atlantic City. This is The New York Times description:
Miss Clark was standing on the platform. He thought she smiled. She got on the car and took the front seat. He beat a ragtime refrain. Then he ran his hand through his hair, brushed two specks from his coat, smiled a pensive smile, and took the seat beside Miss Clark and remarked in feeling tones “that it looked like rain.”
Hardly were the words uttered when the conductor bore down, attracted by the girl’s signals of distress.
Off to court in Camden, N.J., went the debonair Fisher. The charge: flirting. He got 60 days in jail — for telling a girl that it might rain! A man screaming obscenities will barely cause heads to turn on the New York subway today. “It must have been the feeling tones that did Fisher in.”
One constant in life is change. “Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.” (Sydney Harris)
That may be our desire, but in the last two months we seem to have experience the opposite — nothing has stayed the same and most things have gotten worse: the economy has plummeted, people have lost jobs in record numbers, we are physically distant from friends and family, massive numbers of people have gotten sick and died, and relationships are being challenged because of unusual closeness (we can’t get away from each other). Then there are different opinions about what to do about Covid-19 — how safe or how endangered are we and did the government act rationally or irrationally?
Among all the things that change, we need stability. This morning we are reminded of our unchanging God by a suffering psalmist. We don’t know his exact circumstances, but he’s evidently dying, and he is despairing. Psalm 102 is a personal lament psalm, but it is also a psalm of hope and confidence. The psalmist’s life is ending (literally), but God is absolutely, and eternally unchanging in all that He is. He is immutable.
Theologians describe immutability this way: God’s immutability “is that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections, and in His purposes and promises…and is free from all accession or diminution and from all growth or decay in His Being or perfections.”
The Psalmist says it this way:
Our confidence in life is God’s unchanging nature.
As we look at this psalm, we see two realities of life —
- We are Changing — and Unstable (vv. 23-24)
- Our lives are full of affliction
- Our lives are weak and short (v. 23)
- Our lives are dependent, not independent (v. 24)
- God is Unchanging — and Dependable (vv. 25-27)
- God’s power does not change (vv. 25-26)
- God’s nature does not change (v. 27)
- God’s promises do not change (v. 28)
Download the rest of this sermon on Psalm 102:23-28.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.