It goes with being an imperfect human being living among other imperfect beings in an imperfect world. We’re living in serious times, but it seems to have always been so. Crisis follows crisis. It would be tempting to live as a hedonist, grasping what pleasure we can while there’s time, or shrug in cynical lethargy. ‘Que sera sera’ – what’s the point?
Yet the world around us is difficult to ignore. People and things vex us because deep down we care.
David’s songs, penned 1000 years BC and recorded in the Old Testament book of Psalms, frequently express distress and lament over the evil that people do. He seeks and finds his refuge in God. Psalm 5 is an example:
‘Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing.
Listen to my cry for help my King and my God, for to you I pray.
In the morning O Lord, you hear my voice,
In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
With you the wicked cannot dwell.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
You hate all who do wrong.
You destroy those who tell lies;
Bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors.’
David is ‘sighing’ from a heavy heart. People do some dreadful things, it’s hard to stay cheerful. He consoles himself with the thought that God is good and urges the Almighty to rule and judge.
He recognises that none of us are all we should be. We all fall short in many ways. So he appeals to God’s mercy as he worships with reverence and humility and asks to be led in paths of righteousness. It’s surely wise, even for a king like David, to admit we need help from beyond ourselves to rise above despair and do this thing called life properly.
Faith like this doesn’t fix everything instantly. Just watch the news today, or witness some of the private thoughts in your own heart. The rest of the Bible makes clear how God is making all things new through Christ. There will be a final judgement and gathering home of those who have trusted Him but for now it’s gradual. It’s a work in progress, something we need to practise every day.
In his closing verses David sings that even now there is blessing, favour, protection, comfort, cause for gladness for those who don’t bury their heads but face honestly and courageously the suffering and look higher to the Lord and His coming Kingdom. Trusting in Him we find grace – forgiveness and fresh energy from His Spirit, and so we choose to aim for better in ourselves and for those around us.
That’s how we choose to live today.