Have you noticed that since the advent of social media, it is a lot easier to get bad news? I know, I know… what an inspirational way to start out a blog post. But in all seriousness, sometimes I log onto Facebook or the Yahoo news feed and I feel inundated by the pain and suffering of others. Someone may write a status update about a sick friend and the featured story in the news might be about a horrible tornado and what began as a frivolous visit online becomes a heart wrenching glimpse into the world around me. And suddenly, I don’t know how to pray. I mean, I can come up with requests but the words feel limp because I have already given up. I don’t mean that I have stopped believing in God’s miraculous powers. I know in that big head of mine that our God can do anything. What I have lost or at least pushed down underneath the pain around me is the knowledge that no matter what is happening God remains the same – present, faithful and saving.
In Psalm 43, the psalmist begins with a please: “Vindicate me, my God and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me?” The writer feels deliberately ignored because God isn’t dealing with His immediate problems in the way he desires. In other words, the bad stuff around him keeps happening and so, like me, he starts to feel like giving up. But then something beautiful happens, the writer seems to consider not just what he wants God to do but who God is.
Verse 5 reads: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” HOPE! Even when the writer is being oppressed by his enemy, there is hope. Even when the people I love are grieving, the crime rate is rising, weather is devastating, even then there can be hope not because God is necessarily going to take away those problems but because those problems cannot change His character.
This Lenten season, we are being challenged to follow and I am learning more and more that in order to even begin doing that I must trust – not in what I know God has the ability to do but simply in God. He is present in the midst of suffering. He is faithful to His people and His saving grace stands no matter what. The God we worship is good and when I trust that, I can experience the hope written about by the psalmist. The hope that we need in our fallen world. The hope that is rooted in Him and Him alone.