>Blessed, not Stressed, Psalm 80

>I’ll continue my series on Christians in the arts later, but today I’m thinking a lot about how I view my life. God has impressed on me the need to think about my life differently.

I often find myself thinking, “I wish my life were simpler.” A friend and I are praying that God will show us the way to make our lives simpler and she let me borrow 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Joyce Meyer. I’ve barely begun reading it, but I was convicted already by what Meyer wrote in her introduction:

“I spent many years hoping life would change and things would calm down until I finally realized life itself doesn’t change; in fact, it has the potential to get worse. I understood that my only real option was to change my approach to life” (ix).

“I discovered it wasn’t really life or circumstances or other people as much as it was me that needed to change. … When you spend your life in frustration trying to change the world and everyone in it, you fail to realize it could be you just need to change your approach to life” (x).

God used those words to convict me. I realized that instead of thinking of my life as complicated and stressed, I need to think of it as rich and blessed.

Sometimes the chronic character of our concerns can be extremely discouraging. We pray and pray about the same situation, but nothing seems to change. It seems as if our prayers are bouncing back down from the ceiling.

Asaph and the people of Israel felt the same way at times. He writes in Psalm 80:

O LORD God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh among themselves

When our prayers appear to go unanswered, we feel as if God is angry with them. Chronic problems make us feel as if God has given us only tears to eat and drink. It is terribly depressing when other people fail to respect us and treat us scornfully.

Psalm 80 compares God’s people to a vine that God planted and protected, but now the “boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it” (13).

I can’t read that verse without recalling the imagery from the movie “Luther” that contrasts scenes of the Pope hunting and spearing a boar in the forest with scenes of Luther. During these constrasting scenes, a voiceover reads the Pope’s letter comparing Luther to a wild boar with words that reflect this text.

Just as the Pope felt that Luther was assailing the church, we often feel that people or events are assailing our faith.

The Psalmist begs:

Turn again, O God of hosts!
Look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
the stock that your right hand planted,
and for the sons whom you made strong for yourself

God is the one who planted the vine of the church and planted each one of us in it. He is the one who made the vine grow and who has strengthened each one of us to saving faith.

The Psalm continues:

But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name!

Christ called himself the Son of Man. Through him, each of us—sons and daughters of men—will be made strong and equipped to the tasks God places before us. God is the one who strengthened us to saving faith for himself, and he is the one who will enable us to persevere. He will equip us to stay the course. He gives each of us this particular life, with all its complications and circumstances, and he wants us to seek his face and praise him for his good gifts.

It’s easy to wish God would remove us from difficult situations, even to wish God would just take us home and deliver us from all these chronic cares. (“Beam me up, Scotty!”)

But we are called to find our strength in Christ and by his strength to persevere in our calling.

May God help each of us to stop viewing life as complex and stressed, but rather to think of it as rich and blessed.


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