Psalm 143:1-4 (NIV)
Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. So, my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.
Are you getting tired of this journey through the psalms? Are you ready for something a little less…depressing? While the psalms confront us with a steady drumbeat of situational despair, they also nurture us with a steady drumbeat of hope in God’s love and care for His people. It is said that the number one reason—intellectually speaking—that people reject the Christian faith is “the problem of evil.” It goes something like this:
If God is all powerful and all loving, then why is there so much misery in the world? Either he is not all powerful, which means he is no god after all, or if he is, then he simply doesn’t care, which would make him a monster. Either way, why would anyone choose to follow such a “god”?
It’s an understandable argument and one that every Believer needs to be ready to discuss and explore—with the questioner as well as for themselves. There are solid answers, but don’t expect them to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Perhaps it is our God-given desire for justice that causes us to cry out, “Why this great evil?” We all know there is something wrong in this world and we all want a solution. Outside of the faith, it has to start with belief in God and in His son’s finished work. Once you are inside the faith, it has to build on God’s Word, which reveals his character, will, ways, and promises. Perhaps that is why He included a book in his bible that deals so beautifully with the difficult days of life that are common on such a broken and needy world.
Derek Kidner was a British theologian (1913-2008) well known for his bible commentaries. In his commentary on Psalm 143, he noted that, “Every phrase here is so heavy with distress, that no sufferer need feel unique in what he experiences. And the similarity of these terms to those that describe our Lord’s emotions (Mt. 26:37, Heb. 4:15) remind us that none need feel himself alone, or less than fully understood.” Disappointment, pain, and suffering is a natural part of the human experience…but it pales in comparison to the eternal future that we place our hope in through Christ Jesus:
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4: 8, 13b-18)
The Book of Psalms helps us to fix our eyes on what is unseen. It helps us remember that we are not alone in our trials, troubles, and despair. It helps us remember that God has been faithful to His people and that he remains the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). It can be very heavy at times because life is…but it also offers great hope and comfort because Christ does. Don’t run from its weight, but rather, run towards its rawness, honesty, and help.