>It’s no secret that our church is going through an extremely difficult time right now. No one has tried to cover up anything or sweep anything under a rug, but the media hoopla is painful for all of us.
It would be inappropriate and unwise for me to comment more specifically on the situation in this public forum, but I mention it now only to share how remarkable God’s providence has been throughout these last few months.
God has provided just the right sermons for us at just the right steps in this painful journey. And he has provided a faithful interim shepherd who preaches and speaks the truth in love.
And as I blog my way through the Psalms, it amazes me how appropriate each one seems to be to the changing situation.
As the media coverage and public criticism intensifies, it is good to read Psalm 115, which begins with this wonderful verse:
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
As our collective name is dragged through media muck, we grieve not only for the damaged personal relationships and reputations and the damaged congregational reputation, but also—and especially—for the damage to Christ’s church. We trust God’s steadfast love and faithfulness while continuing to pray that no one individual will receive personal glory, but that in all this mess God will receive all the glory.
The next section of Psalm 115 seems particularly apt to recent media exposure and public scorn:
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases (2-3, ESV).
Perhaps some members of the media delight in exposing sin within a small Dutch Reformed enclave like Pella. Perhaps some people gloat in what they view as our church’s religious hypocrisy. Perhaps some unbeliever asks, “Where is their God?” Even believers can think, “Why did God allow this to happen?”
Our only response can be, “Our God reigns on high, he is sovereign over even this painful situation.”
Verse three says that God does all he pleases. How can this pain please God? We don’t know. But we do know that he will use it for good. Perhaps it will unify and strengthen marriages; perhaps it will unify and strengthen our church; perhaps it will unify and strengthen our federation; perhaps it will unify and strengthen Christ’s church in our community; perhaps it will even help unify and strengthen Christ’s church in our nation and throughout the world. We just don’t know. But we can be sure it will somehow, in some way, be for good.
The next section of Psalm 115 (verses 4-8) talks about the ineffectiveness of idols and how those who put their trust in them become like them. Those who trust in anything except God are as dumb, blind, deaf, lame, and mute as an inanimate idol.
Verses 9-11 encourage believers to trust in the Lord, who is our “help and shield.” Following this encouragement, the psalmist give believers these beautiful promises and prayers (excerpts from verses 12-15, ESV):
The LORD has remembered us; he will bless us;
he will bless those who fear the LORD,
both the small and the great.
May the Lord give you increase,
you and your children!
May you be blessed by the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!
God not only promises to remember us, but he also promises to bless us! And he will bless the lowly believer as well as the exalted believer. The psalmist asks God to bless us and our children, a prayer that will be fulfilled because God is the Creator God who made all things and can do all things.
Psalm 115 concludes with a reminder of God’s sovereignty and a call to live with victorious praise (16-18, ESV):
The heavens are the LORD’s heavens,
but the earth he has given to the children of man.
The dead do not praise the LORD, n
or do any who go down into silence.
But we will bless the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the LORD!
God reigns over the cosmos and over all the events of our lives! He has put us on earth and given us authority over our little areas of creation. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had plenty of times in the last year—particularly in the last few months—when I just wanted to say, “Beam me up, Scotty!”
It isn’t wrong to long for glory. Christians are called to long for our translation to glory as well as the renewal of all things. But while we’re here, we are also called to live to God’s glory. Our dead bodies can’t witness to other people about God’s glorious salvation. While we live, we can’t be silent! We must praise God as long as he gives us breath, no matter what our circumstances.
That’s why we’re making the commitment in all of this to bless the Lord now and forever!
Praise the Lord!