Last year our college ministry spent the summer in the Psalms, and our staff directional team took turns writing devotionals for each Psalm that we covered. While I am traveling and working on some long term projects this summer, I thought I’d share some of the devotionals I wrote. This one is on the second half of Psalm 44, which you can read here.
As I watch the news – violence near and far, division of all types, anger, hate fear – I do sometimes feel like we are in God-forsaken times. And when I see that violence, division, anger, hate and fear in people who claim the name of Jesus, I just don’t know what to say. WHY does God stand by and let this happen?
Join me in asking Psalm 44 to be our tutor. I am looking here for what we can learn about what to do as a community when it feels like oppression is running rampant.
#1 Remember our God, who He is and what He has done. Psalm 44 starts with a reminder of the history of God’s faithfulness, all He has done “in the days of old…”
Our God has demonstrated His goodness irrevocably on the cross of Jesus Christ. He is just and merciful and kind.
And He has told us over centuries in His Word that He is working for redemption and justice and “making all the sad things come untrue”, as the Jesus Storybook Bible puts it.
God loves the poor, He is on the side of the oppressed, always. Our Bible is the story not of global superpowers, but of oppressed people whose God is on their side.
We dare not be fooled into thinking He hasn’t noticed our present reality, or that we care more about the violence, anger and hate we see than He does.
He sees. He knows. He cares.
We need to remember our God.
Personally, I never remember on accident. If I’m remembering, it’s because something has reminded me, or I’ve set aside dedicated time to remember. This is one small part of the great value of meeting together with God’s people on a regular basis – to remind each other of God’s faithfulness, that He is on the side of the oppressed, that the battle belongs to HIM.
#2 Remember who we are, and whose we are. We see this over and over in Psalm 44.
…We have not dealt falsely with your covenant, our heart has not turned back, and our steps have not deviated from your way…
The Hebrew writer of Psalm 44 and the Hebrews using Psalm 44 as part of their worship and prayer practice knew they were a covenant people. They were married to God, He was their God, they were His people.
And today, whatever happens in the news, now or 6 months from now, we can live as God’s people. As each news cycle erupts, we can ask “what would it look like to respond to this as a people loved by God and sent to share God’s love?” We can hang on tightly and refuse to turn back or leave His ways. What does it look like to refuse to leave His ways? It looks like compassion, no matter what. Grace and love for the undeserving. Forgiveness. Choosing peace and connection and service. No matter what.
#3 Cultivate Honesty. For the sake of our own sanity and for the watching world, we have to stop pretending like believing God fixes everything and creates a shiny world of non-stop rainbows and unicorns. Can we start listening to hurting people rather than running away from pain? Can we open our eyes, move out of our self-centered worlds focused on our own comfort, and grieve honestly over the state of the world? In addition to honesty about our own circumstances as we saw earlier in Psalm 44, can we join with a hurting world and cry out with the Psalmist
Arouse Yourself, why do you sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face from affliction and our oppression? For our soul has sunk down into the dust; our body cleaves to the earth.
#4 Ask for something different. Here is the point of this Psalm. Beyond remembering, beyond honesty and lament, there is the request for God’s intervention. Holding tight to His promises, waiting for His answer.
Waiting for how long?
No one can answer that. But in the mean time, we remember who God is and who we are, we are honest about the brokenness in our world. And – knowing that the violence and division and anger and fear we see is not what was meant to be – we ask for something different.
Rise up! Be our help! Redeem us for the sake of Your lovingkindness!
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
If you’re interested in reading any of the other Psalms devotionals from last summer (I was very impressed with my coworkers’ writing skills, I really enjoyed every one of these!), you can look around over here.