If I ever wanted to run away, tonight might be the night. Although I wrote in July something similar here, it just about sums up how I am feeling right now...again.
Nothing like turbulent times to make a girl's heart fill with trepidation.
Nothing like uncertainty to make me want a hug and to be reassured everything will be ok. Nothing like being told no as an answer to prayer to make you doubt.
Nothing like starting a new job in the week all of the above happened to make me feel out of control.
Yet, here I am again. Reminded of late July when I was feeling pressed and crushed and perplexed and searching for peace. Y'all, just because I write these blogs and study the bible to share with you does not mean I've mastered it. I struggle. I am right now, this night, this moment, struggling. And I so desperately just want a hug and to cry for a bit and then run away. Probably exactly how those who lost the last election felt.
These are some of the most difficult days we have ever faced in our country. We’ve lost our oneness, stability, strength, and care for one another. Now our nation is suffering from uncertainty, uneasiness, conflict, and distrust. If ever we needed to rely on the Scripture, it’s today. Such times should lead us to cry out to God, asking Him for wisdom, courage, and obedience to do what’s right.
I've spoken to some friends today. I wanted them to think I was strong and faith-filled and steadfast so I hurled out the churchy, Christian cliche platitudes so no one could doubt my faith. But I was lying. My inauthenticity with them and myself just caused more personal internal turmoil.
I don't feel strong.
I don't feel faith-filled.
I am doubting the whole mustard seed deal.
I am anxious about the future.
I am angry about wickedness and evil.
I am pouting.
And, I am struck with the irony that I write a Christian blog giving advice on what? How to Live Bravely and Courageously! So now, I am feeling like a hypocrite on top of all that.
Boy, aren't you glad you clicked on this blog to read??
Even when God says no to our requests, even through disappointments and fear, even if I feel unsure and He feels distant I cannot escape the foundation on which I have built my life the past 9.5 years. First, God can be trusted. Second, there's a bible verse/story that is perfect for the time and he wants to speak and comfort us through it. This time is no different.
Psalm 11 For the Pure and Shining One, by King David 1–2 Lord, don’t you hear what my well-meaning friends keep saying to me: “Run away while you can! Fly away like a bird to hide in the mountains for safety. For your enemies have prepared a trap for you! They plan to destroy you with their slander and deceitful lies. Can’t you see them hiding in their place of darkness and shadows? They’re set against you and all those who live upright lives.” But don’t they know, Lord, that I have made you my only hiding place? Don’t they know that I always trust in you?
3 What can the righteous accomplish when truth’s pillars are destroyed and law and order collapse?
4 Yet the Eternal One is never shaken— he is still found in his temple of holiness, reigning as Lord and King over all. He is closely watching everything that happens. And with a glance, his eyes examine every heart. For his heavenly rule will prevail over all.
5 He will test both the righteous and the wicked, exposing each heart. God’s very soul detests those who love to resort to violence.
6 He will rain down upon them judgment for their sins. A scorching wind will be their portion and lot in life.
7 But remember this: the Righteous Lord loves what is right and just, and every godly one will come into his presence and gaze upon his face!
At the beginning of Psalm 11, David paraphrases a conversation with an imaginary advisor who tells him that there is nothing left for him to do but run away. It is all over, this advisor tells him: “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Yes, I know you are righteous David, but what you are facing is too tumultuous—just run and flee!
In response to this “helpful” advice, David does three things that I think are instructive for us.
1. Stay & Shelter
When we read what David has written in Psalm 11 we can all relate because there are times in life when a crisis may settle in on us so that we have a tendency to want to run away and hide from our responsibilities. Sometimes the greatest lesson you can learn from life is that you have to stay and fight.
David likened the foundation of a nation to that of a building. If a house is to last, it must be built on a strong foundation. Otherwise, it will begin to crumble, and the house will fall. In the same way, a nation whose foundation is weak cannot endure. A strong national foundation consists of law and order, justice, truth, morality, decency, integrity, fairness, and trustworthiness. When these are abandoned, the foundation begins to crumble, and the nation is in danger of collapsing.
This is not a time for God's people to shrivel up and act afraid of anything. It is a time to stand up and remember what we stand on. We stand on the truth of the Word of God. That is our foundation. That is our guidebook. That is our compass and a continuing reminder that we are the children of Almighty God and God will see us through it.
What we find in this psalm is the sense of confidence that will prevail. Those around David are filled with panic but David is filled with peace because he knows the Lord is a refuge. This psalm can be grouped with the other psalms of confidence (Psalms 4, 16, 23, 27, 62, 125, and 131). We will always find it true that there are two voices in our walk of faith—one that pushes fear and wants us to flee and one that speaks faith and wants us to remain firm.
2. Trust in the Test
Even though “the foundations are being destroyed,” David continues to “take refuge” in the Lord. As David faces crisis after crisis, he continues to trust. He is bold and sometimes uncomfortably direct with God, but he does not wane in his trust. In Psalm 11, this reflex comes from his unshakeable conviction that no matter what is happening—no matter that the “foundations are being shaken”—God is still in control: “He is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne”. In a world of chaos—of death, disease, and disappointment—God is in control. As Christians we can read the life of David, and meet someone who suffered; who did not live a comfortable middle-class life; who experienced such intense grief that it threatened to destroy him—but who went on trusting in God all the same.
David understood the crisis he was going through as a period of testing or discipline—part of a process whereby the Lord “examines” or “disciplines” the righteous. David understood what the writer of Hebrews also knew: that discipline is a sign of the Lord’s love (Hebrews 12:6). Though it is painful, suffering “produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it”. Difficult times are well…difficult. Faced with a choice we would rather go through easy and pleasant times. But armed with the conviction that the Lord will use them to work in us, we will begin to see the hand of the Lord in even difficult times.
3. Remember the Righteous
David remembers God’s judgment. These verses are confronting, as David states that while the LORD “tests the righteous,” “his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”
This is not language that we are familiar with as Christian because we are accustomed to the truth that God loves the world (John 3:16). The idea that God “hates” the wicked does not describe an emotional response on the part of God (apart from anything else God does not have emotions as we do) but describes his settled opposition to the wicked. They are destined for judgment.
Here is a reminder that we should use times of crisis (like now) to share the good news of Jesus. There is a day of judgment to come.
Further, David remembers that final day will be one when he and all the “upright” will see the LORD face to face. David points to a deep longing—to see the Lord face to face. I am sure there will be some great reunions when this current pandemic is over (and it will be over one day!) but for believers, there is a far more wonderful reunion to come when we are united with the Lord Jesus face to face.
Psalm 11 is a Psalm for our time. It is God’s word to us through the words of David. It shows us how to struggle and trust God in the midst of a crisis and tremendous uncertainty. And, it points us to David’s greater descendant …
… the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2).
And that is the hug I so desperately needed.