Sunday, October 26, 2014

This week I read a story—just one of many similar incidents—about a Muslim girl who was stoned to death by a crowd of men, led of all people by her father. Her crime? Uncleanness, in the form of falling victim to rape. The story detailed the girl’s pleas for forgiveness, and her father’s utter implacability.

The man relating the story went on to discuss how God, our true Father, is tender and compassionate by contrast, always forgiving when we throw ourselves on His mercy.

While a part of me acknowledges the truth of that—and is beyond grateful—another part of me burned with my own “righteous” indignation. How did this man’s mini-sermon help this girl? Where is the world’s outcry against this ridiculousness?

And ... where was the Lord?

Then, I came across this ...

Psalm 94 (NKJV)

O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs—
O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!
Rise up, O Judge of the earth;
Render punishment to the proud.
Lord, how long will the wicked,
How long will the wicked triumph?

I’m sure not the first person to ask this question, to cry out to the Lord about His seeming inaction. After all, He’s sovereign—and omnipotent—why wouldn’t He answer?

It’s easy to just brush off the question, to say “these things happen all the time,” or “others have made outcry and failed to change anything.” But sometimes the immediacy of witnessing someone else’s pain, or hearing about it, just cuts too deeply to ignore.

They utter speech, and speak insolent things;
All the workers of iniquity boast in themselves.
They break in pieces Your people, O Lord,
And afflict Your heritage.
They slay the widow and the stranger,
And murder the fatherless.
Yet they say, “The Lord does not see,
Nor does the God of Jacob understand.”

This is exactly the mindset of those who perpetrate such crimes. Like Pharaoh of Moses’ time, they say, “Who is this God you speak of?” They’re either absolutely convinced of their own righteousness, or they think the consequences of their actions will never catch up with them.

Understand, you senseless among the people;
And you fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, shall He not hear?
He who formed the eye, shall He not see?
10 He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct,
He who teaches man knowledge?
11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
That they are futile.

And, as another Scripture aptly says, “in this is the patience and faith of the saints”—that indeed, God knows, He sees, and—furthermore, He takes note.

12 Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord,
And teach out of Your law,
13 That You may give him rest from the days of adversity,
Until the pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not cast off His people,
Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
15 But judgment will return to righteousness,
And all the upright in heart will follow it.

16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers?
Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
17 Unless the Lord had been my help,
My soul would soon have settled in silence.
18 If I say, “My foot slips,”
Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.
19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.

20 Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law,
Have fellowship with You?
21 They gather together against the life of the righteous,
And condemn innocent blood.
22 But the Lord has been my defense,
And my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He has brought on them their own iniquity,
And shall cut them off in their own wickedness;
The Lord our God shall cut them off.

There’s little enough talk of judgment these days, but He promises to bring justice, when the time is right. Although most days I’d rather it be sooner rather than later, the same mercy extended to me as His child is the same mercy that delays judgment so that even our enemies have ample time to come to Him.

And if they do not come to Him—their judgment is sure.

Either way, until that time, the Lord is still our refuge, and He gives us comfort even in the midst of trouble and anxiety. He is God—our God—and that will never change ... regardless of what evils human inflict on each other.


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