This year the theme for St. Paul’s Vacation Bible School is Shipwrecked: Rescued by Jesus. It is a fun way to get young people thinking about their faith. Imagining that we are all stranded on an island for the week, we have been reflecting on our relationship with Jesus. How does Jesus “rescue” us when we feel lonely, worry, struggle, do wrong, or think we are powerless?
It refreshes our souls to learn that Jesus’ love for us – God’s unconditional love for us – is very real. And when we hear that over and over again, it affirms our value in God’s eyes and in this world. With the assurance of a love that outweighs any obstacles we may face, we go out into the community with the confidence, courage, and compassion to do something meaningful. Jesus rescues.
But: What about the moments when we do not feel as though we are being rescued? What about all of the times when the search parties continuously pass us by?
If we were actually stranded on an island, then we could have all the faith in the world and still be stuck in the middle of nowhere. Life consistently feels lonely, chaotic, and hopeless. People get cancer, lose jobs, encounter harassment, and break relationships. Where is Jesus when we need him the most?
Psalm 13 is a perfect example of what we find in many Psalms. The author is faced with a crisis, and they call out to God, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” Maybe you can relate to this feeling. Maybe you’ve cried out in pain to God, too, wondering when God would find a cure, offer a solution, or make a change in your life.
At the end of Psalm 13 the author reiterates, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” When we trust that what we have learned about God is true, our outlook on life changes. Life becomes more than the actions that we take to stay alive. Jesus rescues us, but not by taking away our afflictions. Jesus rescues us by offering love, hope, and peace despite our afflictions. He gives life meaning in our best moments and our worst.
Jesus rescues us with love, which is actually more helpful than an inflatable floating device or a helicopter.