Psalm 94 (click here)
O LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult? They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless; and they say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?
But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the LORD our God will wipe them out. (Psalm 94:3-9 and 22-23)
Do we have a faith that can sustain us through the “How long”?
The simplistic, Western view of God will not sustain a faith the gets slammed with the question “how long?” When our world is rocked and we suffer… when tragedy strikes… when there are global catastrophes… when we begin to lose our lives for faith in Christ like so many of our brothers and sisters around this world are already experiencing… when all this happens, will our vision of God sustain us?
Most in Western Christianity view the Lord as simply serving the purpose of their-own happiness. God exists to help life go the way I want and increase my private luxuries and pleasures. When these expectations are shattered…so is our view of God.
I’ve watched this happen over and over again. Idols always crumble under the erosive pressure of reality. Faith will always crumble when it is placed in a crumbling idol.
We need a view of our God who is the rock that will not crumble! Our God who is the everlasting… he is the only one that can make us last through the pain, suffering, and hurt of this world!
When the Psalmist is confronted with the violent atrocities of his world in Psalm 94, he recalls to mind a vision of God foreign to so many of us. He remembers that God is the sovereign creator over all. He formed all ears and all eyes…and is himself all hearing and all seeing.
In the face of extreme suffering, the Psalmist claims that God is not missing a single sound or sight of it! This is the very thing that makes God his stronghold, his rock, his refuge! For God’s sovereignty acts as a guarantee that none of this iniquity wins! God wins!
We are actually promised by God that we will experience persecution, suffering, hurt, pain… and we are told he is sovereign over it all, and he is good, and he can be trusted! Irony of or ironies…it is THROUGH these very things that God is working our greatest good and his greatest glory!
God really is working for the purpose of our greatest happiness, but that greatest happiness is found in him and in him alone! He is increasing our pleasure in him! He gives us more and more of himself through our suffering! There is so much of him and who he is that we cannot come to know in any other way than through suffering!
And when we suffer… we not only come to know him more, but we make him known to the world! We show the world that we are willing to suffer the loss of all things IN ORDER that we might gain more of Christ because there is nothing more valuable than Christ!
God works for our good and for his glory! He does this through all things! Even the darkest things! None of them win! He uses those very things to accomplish his purposes! This is why the Psalmist speaks to people he considers the “dullest” of all! They cannot see that the very things they believe are defeating the purposes of God are actually being used by God to accomplish his purposes! Ha!
This is seen nowhere more clearly than the cross! If ever there was a place that looked like evil triumphed it was the cross… yet, at the cross God took the most evil act, the murder of his own son, and sovereignly scripted it as the most glorious act!
In trying to defeat God’s purposes, evil was made to serve God’s purposes. No matter how long we have to wait to see it… we will one day know that this has been the case with every single evil thing we have ever experienced. None of it has won. God has made us more than conquerors over all of it by making it all serve the purposes of his glory and our good.
That is a vision of God that doesn’t crumble, but becomes a rock of refuge as we wait, as we cry, as we hope and ask “how long…”
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.