Every once in awhile (not as often as I would like, but perhaps it is all the more precious because of the time between occurrences), I will get an inspiration from the Holy Spirit that leads me to author a post on this blog.
At the present time, I am working my way through a 1-year reading plan of the Holy Bible, and today I ran across one of the Psalms that struck me more than usual. I had been feeling really down, and this Psalm just seemed to speak to me in a meaningful way. It is Psalm 77, here in its entirety:
1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the LORD;
at night I stretched out untiring hands
and my soul refused to be comforted.
3 I remembered you, O God, and I groaned;
I mused, and my spirit grew faint.
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart mused, and my spirit inquired:
7 “Will the LORD reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
10 Then I thought: “To this I will appeal:
the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds.
13 Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
16 The waters saw you, O God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the skies resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightening lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Please re-read the first 9 verses… have you ever felt like that?
I am not going to speak for anyone other than myself, but sometimes (especially these days) I wonder how I even get through a day… I take a look at the world around me, and I do not like what I see. Whether or not one is a Christian, common sense alone indicates the world is a mess, to put it frankly: to name just a few, aggression, conflict, corruption, disagreement, discontent, discord, foolishness on a Biblical scale, greed, grudges, hate, jealousy, paranoia, pettiness, pride, selfishness, starvation and war are rampant… human misery is practically a commodity.
And YES… I am a part of the problem.
Those with a Christian worldview who read Psalm 77 can take true comfort from verses 10-14. Christians can look over the entire expanse of time, and see… “the years of the right hand of the Most High.” God, both outside of time and inside of time, has been in evidence: outside of time because He is the Uncreated Creator (creation cannot be explained rationally without God), and there is visual and scientific evidence everywhere throughout creation that an intelligent designer is responsible for what we see, and inside of time because Holy Scripture demonstrates the involvement of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit all throughout the entire sweep of human history, from the creation of the world by the breath and the will of God as revealed in the book of Genesis through the end of human history and the judgment of Christians and unbelievers as revealed in the book of Revelation. That is a bold claim: there are many who will say, “How can you make such a claim??” I can make such a claim on the basis of 2 assertions: 1) In all of its recorded prophecies, Holy Scripture has never been proven wrong in as much as a single prophecy, and 2) God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ is the only one that has ever been certifiably killed and then eye-witnessed as risen from the dead. These 2 assertions alone (and there are others as well) prove the truth of Christianity above every other religious persuasion. Christians have the strongest ally in God that it is possible to have; that is why it is said that if God is for us, who can be against us? Christians can be comforted in knowing that all suffering is held in the mighty grip of God: there is nothing that can touch His people unless He allows it, or causes it to be brought about. What Christians understand that folks without a Christian worldview do not at all understand is that God is concerned with our ultimate good, and His glory. We cannot see but a tiny moment of our lifespan at any given time and, given that physical constraint, it is easy to understand why people who do not know God and His plan for humanity have tremendous suffering because they do not see the entire picture. God does see the entire picture because of His omniscience (perfect understanding) and omnipresence (being everywhere at once inside and outside of time), and we as His children must trust in Him.
Being a Christian, and seeing and understanding the world for what it is, does not mean that I walk away from it declaring fatalistically that nothing can be done, therefore it is useless to even try. Jesus Christ was in the world, but not of the world, and this is how Christians must live. We do not love the world, nor anything in it, but we are mandated to show the world, because it is lost and dying, the love of the One who gave His life on the cross for us. We Christians do this as best we can, understanding that we are under the curse of a sin nature, and will never be perfected this side of heaven. We are encouraged in this work because of the life that was led by Jesus Christ. In His humanity, and at all points, He was tempted just as we are, but was without sin. It is the task of the Christian, after having been drawn to Jesus Christ by God the Father and by the conviction of the heart by the Holy Spirit, to be conformed more and more to the likeness of Jesus Christ, until we have been perfected in body, mind and spirit by either our physical death or the second coming of Jesus Christ as the Mighty King of kings and Lord of lords.
If you are reading this, and you do not have a Christian worldview, you might be feeling down because of a number of factors. Quite possibly, adverse circumstances might have come your way, or you are depressed because you have discovered that none of the people or the things in this world have made you truly happy. I will tell you that, if you place your faith and trust in people and things, you will be constantly and consistently disappointed… nothing will satisfy you. You will reach a point, if you have not reached it already, where one more person or thing is one too many, but also where one more person or thing is never enough. Please understand that you feel this way in your deepest and innermost parts because you are created in the image of God: your soul longs for God, and is in turmoil without Him… your being without Him in your life is the pain and emptiness that you feel. It is normal for people to be sometimes down and sometimes depressed. The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that these are temporary conditions for a Christian because of the hope that he or she has in Jesus Christ: those who do not have hope because they do not know either God or the One that He sent will have those conditions on a perennial basis.
Holy Scripture declares that all people are sinners, and are under the penalty of death for their sins. Sin is nothing more or less than rebellion against God. When Moses was given the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, they became the basis of the Mosaic Covenant, the governance of God’s people by the force of God’s commandments to them. This eventually developed beyond the Ten Commandments into hundreds of regulations (the Mosaic Law) governing God’s people. It became clear over time that no one could keep every point of the Law without transgression, so therefore what the Law accomplished was to demonstrate to people their transgressions, and to condemn them for those transgressions: the Law could not point the way to how people could be justified before God, which is to say the Law could not make provision for people to be forgiven of their sins and placed into a right relationship with God. Under the Law, animal sacrifices were made to give honor and praise to God, and to make atonement for sin.
Jesus Christ was given by God to the world to do what the Law could not do: provide a way for people to be forgiven for their sins, and to be placed into a right relationship with God, so that they would no longer be under the wrath of God. Jesus Christ is the end and the perfection of the Law, and is the New and Everlasting Covenant.
Jesus Christ became the ultimate (and only) sacrifice for sin that would satisfy the wrath of God against people… a perfect sacrifice never to be repeated; a sacrifice that God demands one and only one confession from a person to pardon that person before Him:
“I AM A SINNER: JESUS CHRIST DIED ON THE CROSS TO PAY THE PENALTY OF DEATH FOR MY SINS”
When you place your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, King and Messiah, when you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is LORD, when you believe in your heart that God the Father raised Jesus Christ from the dead as the first-born from among the dead, you are saved and you are justified before God in the free pardon of sin that came by the sacrificial death of His only Son. The shed blood of Jesus Christ, and the grace that is ours because of that shed blood, is available to all who ask.
There can be no greater joy for anyone than to know that, through belief in Jesus Christ, he or she will live forever. That is my joy, that nothing in this world can take away. Let it be your joy, also.