Save me, O God . . . I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. . . . More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; many are those who would destroy me, my enemies who accuse me falsely. . .
Psalm 69I have always feared drowning more than almost any other mortal danger. I was born, raised and lived most of my life on or near the ocean. I have trained and learned everything I could about surviving in the water, but for me, drowning is the stuff of nightmares. I am sure that my fear is exaggerated, but for me it is very real.
Being accused and punished when innocent must feel like drowning. There is no escape; the misery presses from every side and feels worse than being alone in a crowd. It’s like being crushed in a stampeding mob.
Such is the despair of the Old Testament, which leaves us calling to God for relief, but does not provide us with the denouement -- the story of our redemption. In the New Testament, Jesus offers a breathing tube, a way out of the despair of our undeserved affliction. He tells us that we are baruch -- blessed/lucky/fortunate -- to suffer for righteousness’ sake.
Peter puts it this way: to be punished for our sins is no big deal, but to suffer when innocent and bear it with love and grace_this is truly great and pleasing in God’s sight. And Jesus’ passion and crucifixion is the ultimate example of this.
Thanks be to God for Jesus, who has shown us how to drown without fear.