When I sit down to start talking with y’all, my head usually spins. Sometimes it’s at lightning speed and the words tumble out on the page in a rush. Sometimes, my thoughts reverse direction so quickly, I cannot write or even focus. Sometimes the ideas stop and start, just like the development of every other creative work.
The past few days have been particularly spin-ny for me. My loyalties have been placed in precarious positions, children still languish without their parents, hard-working people in many professions are being targeted, insulted, and called dreadful names, and everything has gotten contentious.
To be clear, those close to me are safe and still close. It’s just much of the rest of the world has kept me off balance and anxious.
Today was Psalm 44 day. Whether or not it was written by David or someone else is unclear. But it sounds like the words of a person who is in distress – a person who also wants desperately to keep faith in the God of their fathers.
The beginning of the psalm tells of the glory days, when God fought for the Israelites and “…crushed the peoples and made our ancestors flourish.” The Psalmist praises and glorifies God for His faithfulness.
But the last part abruptly turns into a list of all the tragedy God is allowing to happen to His people…
You have rejected us and no longer fight for us.
We have been defeated and scattered.
We are a reproach to our neighbors and live in disgrace.
The psalmist says, “You sold your people for a pittance, gaining nothing from their sale.”
Good golly, Miss Molly. Bold words pointed at the all-powerful God.
We aren’t so different, though, are we? We may not write down our thoughts for all to see, but sometimes it’s hard to accept that things aren’t going the way we predicted, or the way we thought God was taking us. We see cultural shifts that are bumping Godliness to the curb. And, it’s unsettling, to say the least.
Now, I may be in the minority here, but, even though we experience cultural shifts – some of them quite extreme – I don’t think the people of God living in the United States are getting trampled.
To clarify, I don’t think we have a lot of friends in government, and I think we are going to have to be brave and work together to keep the name of Jesus alive here. It may be more difficult to be open about our faith, as laws may change in favor of silencing open dialogue and limiting our ability to exert the rights we believe we have.
I am quite sure, however, that the real problem is this: the Enemy is alive and active. I think he wants us to feel forlorn, and he’s just waiting for opportunities to silence and limit us. I believe he wants us to believe God is forsaking us, that we are defeated and isolated, and that our neighbors think we are crazy at best and a disgrace at worst.
So let’s go back to the Psalm. Look at this… right in the middle, the psalmist included these strong words of conviction:
You are my King and my God,
who decrees victories for Jacob.
Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.
I put no trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.
I put no trust in my bow.
Despite all God’s people were experiencing – with evidently no explanations – the writer reminds us that (1) God is good and (2) we are not in charge of things. Not at all.
My lovelies, we cannot trust our own strength. We cannot vote God’s will into our political system. We cannot use our protesting voices to right wrongs or to get things back on track.
It’s all God’s. It’s His strength. It’s His ultimate power and authority to make things right and to straighten the paths.
Do we have an obligation, responsibility, and right to fight hard for what we believe is right? Ab-so-TIV-ly. No one will ever convince me that we are to sit back and let things roll down hill. God is not a big fan of “passive.”
But I have a strong sense that we, here in the States, have two serious “bow” issues.
- We dare to say that challenges to our rights to practice our faith can be described as persecution – the term used when Christians in other countries and cultures are imprisoned, beaten, tortured, and killed for their faith.
- We think we are strong enough to handle things on our own – and we dare to claim that we know what God wants to happen. We are arrogant enough to say we can identify who and what God anoints, as well as who and what He doesn’t.
Some people do know God and the Bible better than others. They have discerning minds and hearts and help guide us when the way gets rough and there is a fork in the road.
But none of us can claim to know it all and none of us can do it all.
I hope and pray that, as things get more complicated and prickly, we as fellow Believers and truth-tellers stick together and stick with Jesus. I hope and pray that we remember that we can’t rely on our own bow.
I pray that we remember the true victory may not be even one day this side of Heaven. We may live daily in chaos and constant discouragement, overcome only by the strength and power of Jesus – and maybe only in our hearts and souls.
No, we may not escape rejection, defeat, or disgrace – not here anyway. Our leaders may fail us and our causes may lose momentum. But in the end (and our heavenly beginning), our anxiety and distress will be replaced with more glory than we can imagine.
My grandma had it right. She found the verses that kept her going. She knew that, when all is said and done,
The Lord is good,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in Him.