Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
“Misery Likes Company But Can’t Get It From Christians”
The irony of American life was illustrated by the editorial cartoon that appeared in The Citizen’s Voice on 13 June 2018. It showed a graph charting America’s increasing economy, stocks, employment, wages,…and suicides.
Mother Teresa’s observation of this irony comes to mind. When asked what she thought of America’s great wealth during a visit, she said sadly, “I have never seen such poor people.”
How ironic that the wealthiest nation in the history of humankind has so many miserable people as documented by a suicide rate spiraling out of control.
According to editor-in-chief William Falk of The Week, “Every year, about 45,000 people commit suicide in the U.S. – twice as many as are killed in homicides” (6/22/18).
Research tells us that one in seven of our youth report having thoughts of suicide.
Most experts say such recorded statistics are very, very, very low to reality; estimating that many more deaths reported as natural were suicides.
Kirsten Powers asks then admits in USA Today (6/22/18), “Why are so many more Americans getting to this level of emotional despair than in the past?…[Clearly]…something is wrong with our culture.”
Candidly, Christians know why.
Faith-based life just ain’t what it used to be in America.
I saw that at the recent baccalaureate service for Belvidere North High School on 8 May 2018. Well-attended by graduating students and parents, I did not spot one member of the school board, teacher’s union, or administration. There wasn’t a teacher, sub, coach, or local politician in sight.
Everyone sees the symptoms of a Godless-to-defying America in our broken homes, schools, churches, media, entertainment, government, courtrooms, and just about every thread of the unraveling fabric of our culture.
For reasons betraying profound emotional, intellectual, and spiritual illness, America is broken and can’t/won’t turn to the only One capable of healing it.
Americans are giving up.
The nation is committing suicide.
David understood such fatalistic feelings.
With so many enemies including his mentor Saul and son Absalom, he felt lower than dirt on many occasions as noted in so many of his psalms.
If it were not for his unrelenting faith in the midst of life’s meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance, David would have been one of those deadly statistics.
While admitting faith does not make us immune to life’s miserable challenges, David knew faith overcomes them.
Psalm 10 is all about living confidently amid the challenges.
David reminds us to look up not give up.
He does not deny the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance of life: “Wicked boasting…cursing, deceit, and violence…trouble and malice.”
What really troubles David is a feeling that God has taken a vacation or isn’t paying attention or doesn’t care anymore and isn’t helping the faithful during desperate times: “Why do You stand so far away? Why do You hide in times of trouble? Why are You avoiding me? Where are You when I need You?”
David almost comes off like a frustrated Vince Lombardi on the sidelines when the team seems to be losing: “What the hell’s going on out here?”
We know the feeling.
We’ve been there when we feel God hasn’t done that expected intervention.
Pero David and the faithful know God and the Godly win sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end: “The Lord is King…You have heard the desire of the humble…You will strengthen…You will listen.”
Though we’ll get to it before the parousia, Psalm 37:15 bears boasting in the ultimate victory shared with God: “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned.”
The rock solid truth keeping our lives from turning into the sinking sand of despair to death is God saves sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end.
We’ll never know why we must endure, yet we know how to overcome.
Trusting the One who has led us through the wildernesses of the past will do the same sooner than later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end.
BTW, God is our only option.
Only God enables us to overcome the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance.
Nothing and no one else can do that.
People who don’t get that/Him tend to be…suicidal.
Their lives are not stable and they are susceptible to drowning in the inevitable perils of life for which there is no immunity.
The only life option is overcoming by grace through faith in Jesus.
Like so many of the psalms, that’s David’s message in #10.
So I guess it’s time for me to share something that I’ve never shared in over four decades of undershepherding.
It’s something that I share with David and people like him.
I can’t be as miserable as too many people around me who are miserable and want me to be miserable with them because it’s impossible to be that miserable once you’ve been saved by grace through faith in Jesus.
There are people in our lives who want us to be as miserable as they are.
I’ll also confess there have been times when I’ve wanted to be as miserable as they are so I can, you know, empathize with ‘em because God knows I can’t sympathize with ‘em.
Yeah, that’s sick.
But there are lots of sick people in the world and sometimes, if we’re not holding tightly to Jesus, they’re contagious.
Truth is we don’t want to be like them and won’t be like them if we stay close to Him.
Being miserable is a choice; and while the reports are in and prove their numbers are increasing at an alarming rate, we don’t have to become a part of their statistics.
We can live through it all with/in/through/for Him.
Getting back to suicide, a famous friend told me, “I’ve had this recurring idea that God greets people who have committed suicide with warm gentleness: ‘I know it was too tough for you down there. It was almost too tough for Me.’”
Yes, suicide is a sin. It is a rejection of God’s best for our lives: “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly!”
No, it is not an unforgivable sin. There’s only one of those: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’s witness to salvation for anyone by grace through faith in Jesus.
So let’s get this straight.
God made this life so “good” by design; and it’s “good” as long as we don’t mess it up.
Instead of giving up on life when it gets unbearably tough, look up!
Facing the future unafraid in the assurance of the best thing forever (heaven) after the worst thing in time (death), jump on His back and hurdle life’s obstacles to the finish line.
Nobody, including David in Psalm 10, ever said every day will be a hot fudge sundae; but everybody who has ever joined David in seeing beyond the immediate problem to the imminent solution with/in/through/for God knows a few or even lots of bumps and bruises aren’t deadly.
I think of the boy who warned a crabber, “Mister, you better put a top on your bucket or the crabs will crawl up and out.”
“No.” the crabber assured the young boy, “don’t worry, son. When one crab gets to the top and close to freedom, the other crabs just pull it back down.”
Yep, lots of crabs in this world; and misery likes company.
Faith doesn’t make us immune to their disease; but it does mean we will overcome ‘em sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end.
He pulls us up as they try to pull us down.
Pero, again, it’s a choice.
It’s all about grip and hanging onto the right One.
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!