Ever read something in the Bible and think, Ooh, I don’t like that. It just doesn’t seem right.
I’m guilty of it.
Every now and then I’ll run across a passage or an account or even a doctrine that rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t seem fair (according to my sense of justice) or the timing is all off (according to my timetable) or the love seems to be missing (according to my understanding of love). It bothers me, even annoys me, that I feel that way, that I don’t understand WHY.
Psalm 44 is one of those passages. Oh, the first eight verses start out great. The writer praises God for his might and intervention in the history of his people, for his protection and faithfulness. The writer declares his faith in God and trust in Him.
But verse nine begins with one word that changes everything. BUT.
For the next eighteen verses the writer goes on and on asking God where’s He’s been, why He’s allowed such calamity to fall upon His people. The writer defends himself and the people and accuses God of leading them into destruction. He writes:
All this came upon us, though we had not forgotten you; we had not been false to your covenant. Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path. But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals; you covered us over with deep darkness.
He pleads innocent. He puts the responsibility for their presence in the valley squarely on God’s shoulders.
Then he questions God, points his finger right at the Lord of all and challenges Him:
Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression? We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.
Now, if you’re familiar with the psalms this is where we would normally see a turnaround, a change of heart, where the psalmist would begin to praise God for deivering the people or for his promise of hope and a better future. But it isn’t there. It just ends with doom and gloom.
I don’t like it . . . because it’s too much like real life. In fiction we’re challenged to conclude a story with as little loose ends as possible. End on a high note, we’re told, readers like happy endings where things are explained and at least most of the story elements work out for good.
But life isn’t always like that, is it? We don’t always get all the answers; we don’t always understand why God does what he does or allows what he allows. Sometimes (most of the time?) we just have to trust.
My favorite portion of psalm 44, the phrase I cling to and I’m sure the one the writer clung to with all his might is . . . You are my King and my God.
That’s it. When life is spinning out of control and we can’t focus on anything, when the pain is so bad we just want it all to end, when the darkness is so deep there is no light to guide us, when we’ve lost our foot hold we can still declare with confidence: You are my King and my God.
Question: Have you been there? Have you experienced that pain and confusion? Where did you turn?
(I invite you to visit my other blog too: www.mikedellosso.wordpress.com).