Sunday, June 22, 2014

In conversation this week with a neighbor who is facing a steep moral dilemma, the subject came up of whether God always protects us from the consequences when we “do the right thing.” Sometimes, of course, He doesn’t. In those cases, He doesn’t let us take the heat without a specific purpose in mind. But, I told her, He can protect us, and often does.

So, for you, Jill ...

Psalm 31 (NKJV) ... A Psalm of David

In You, O Lord, I put my trust;
Let me never be ashamed;
Deliver me in Your righteousness.
Bow down Your ear to me,
Deliver me speedily;
Be my rock of refuge,
A fortress of defense to save me.

She made the comment to me, everything is “cool” nowadays except having a moral compass. People who believe in an absolute right and wrong—especially if they’re open about basing that on Scripture—are painted as the worst kind of idiot. I suspect it’s always been the case, human nature being what it is, and given how often this plea shows up in David’s prayers ... let me never be ashamed.

For You are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your name’s sake,
Lead me and guide me.
Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

I have hated those who regard useless idols;
But I trust in the Lord.
I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy,
For You have considered my trouble;
You have known my soul in adversities,
And have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a wide place.

One might argue that as Christian, we aren’t supposed to hate ... but I suspect that what is defined as “hate” here isn’t exactly what we think. The focus here is on a situation where a believer is being hassled by those who don’t ascribe to God’s truth as the final authority, but who give their energy and allegiance to “useless idols”—things which seem to have power and influence, but cannot really save us. It’s easy to talk about living our faith radically enough to have people angry with us, but to actually experience it is terrifying ...

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble;
My eye wastes away with grief,
Yes, my soul and my body!
10 For my life is spent with grief,
And my years with sighing;
My strength fails because of my iniquity,
And my bones waste away.
11 I am a reproach among all my enemies,
But especially among my neighbors,
And am repulsive to my acquaintances;
Those who see me outside flee from me.
12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the slander of many;
Fear is on every side;
While they take counsel together against me,
They scheme to take away my life.

14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
And from those who persecute me.
16 Make Your face shine upon Your servant;
Save me for Your mercies’ sake.
17 Do not let me be ashamed, O Lord, for I have called upon You;
Let the wicked be ashamed;
Let them be silent in the grave.
18 Let the lying lips be put to silence,
Which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.

And here it is ... every detail of everything we experience is held in God’s hand. He alone is worthy of our complete trust, because He alone has the power to pull us out of whatever trouble we might be going through. And even when He doesn’t—at least not immediately—we can know that at some point, He will put an end to those who rise up against us, and Him.

19 Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared for those who trust in You
In the presence of the sons of men!
20 You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence
From the plots of man;
You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion
From the strife of tongues.

21 Blessed be the Lord,
For He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city!
22 For I said in my haste,
“I am cut off from before Your eyes”;
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried out to You.

Even in those moments when we’re sure God has forgotten us, when whatever we’re going through is beyond His notice, we can know He hears us, and sees. His goodness is FOR us, not against us! Even in the midst of trouble, we can rest in His presence, where His peace  holds sway over our very core.

23 Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints!
For the Lord preserves the faithful,
And fully repays the proud person.
24 Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.


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