The news this week seemed more exasperating than usual. Here are three examples:
- National – After days of on again-off again negotiations at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, the fiscal crisis gripping Washington now hangs in the balance.
- World – Typhoon Phalin is the fiercest storm to hit India in more than a decade. Loss of property and life could be very high.
- Local – Georgia-Pacific will close its Jarratt, Virginia fiberboard plant and lay off about 80 employees.
Our nation is on the brink of financial crisis yet the leaders we elected are more interested in political posturing than working together. The people of India will need our help, yet our churches have little or no resources to offer. Some of those people in Jarratt who lost their jobs attend a church I pastored.
I feel angry, frustrated and fearful but most of all, I feel helpless… helpless to do anything constructive.
Is this what the author of Psalm 73 feels? After expressing frustration with several issues, the Psalmist asks in verse 11: “What’s going on here? Is God out to lunch? Nobody’s tending the store!”
- “What’s going on here?” I don’t understand?
- “Is God out to lunch?” Where is God in the midst of the crisis?
- “Nobody’s tending the store.” Who is going to fix everything?
Then the Psalmist experiences a moment of truth: “I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.” (Verses 21-24)
The Psalmist was feeling bitter and torn up inside but in the end, this is unproductive, even foolish. What is important for the Psalmist to remember? “I still belong to you, you hold my right hand.” There is my lesson: Yes, the news this week has been frustrating and I feel helpless but I still belong to God who will guide and lead me.
- Our nation is on the brink of financial crisis, so I need to pray and encourage others to join me.
- The people of India will need our help so I must trust that God will provide our resources.
- My friends in Jarratt also belong to God who will guide them as well as me through the crisis.
I may feel angry, frustrated and fearful but through prayer, I learn to trust that God is ultimately in control. I may feel helpless but this is unproductive, even foolish. God will guide my response and my leadership.
Ron Nikkel of Prison Fellowship described a prison in Zambia where prisoners were kept in cells so small that they cannot all lie down at once. No sanitation facilities. Stifling heat. Yet Ron was overwhelmed by the peaceful serene faces of the prisoners amidst the horror of their surroundings. Just behind them in the darkness, he saw an elaborate charcoal sketch drawn on the wall. It showed Jesus stretched out on a cross. The prisoners must have spent hours working on it. And it struck Ron that Christ was there with them, sharing their suffering and giving them joy, even in such a place. – Philip Yancey
The Psalmist ends 73 with: “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.” (26-28)
The news will occasionally be bad, my health may fail, my spirit may grow weak, I could even be imprisoned… but God remains the strength of my heart. How good it is for me to be near God. Amen.