When Life Looks Bleak

What do you feel when you really look at the current state of our world? If I’m being honest, I’d have to say fear and anxiety would make my “Top Ten” feelings. With news articles like “Financial Collapse Imminent”, “Violent Extremism Expanding”, “City Government Bankrupted by Corruption”, “Crime Up 25%”, etc., it’s hard not to feel discouraged.

Then, you get news of those you know fighting cancer, those who are far, far to young to face such fights. I’ve had former students die and leave their families broken hearted. Brothers and sisters in the faith face radical persecution every day. All these are more sources of discouragement.

That’s how I felt when I was reading Psalm 74:1-11 yesterday. Psalm 74 opens with this question, “Why have you rejected us?” Verse 11 says, “Why do you hold back you hand?” The material in between those verses are loaded with pain and confusion. The Psalmist seems to see in his world similar struggles to the ones we see so frequently today.

But, then I read Psalm 74:12ff. I was stopped in my tracks and lifted from the miry clay.

“God my king is from ancient times, performing saving acts on the earth.”

The Psalmist did what I believe I need to do often. He reminded himself of what was True, despite what appeared to be true. There’s a big difference between the two. The world might suggest a haphazard existence, but those who have eyes to see what is True see an entirely different operating system just below the surface. While I might read those headlines and think, “This world is out of control”, I have to remind myself that “God is my king from ancient times.” I need the reminder.

I’m not the first person to look at the world and wonder what’s going on. By God’s grace his Word records generations of people who have lamented the way the world is. But their lamentation doesn’t not own them. Their lament for the way the world is now is trumped by their firm conviction that the world will not always be so. That’s good news!

Light out of darkness.jpg
Light pierces darkness

The Psalmist reminds himself that it was the Lord who divided the sea, who opens springs and rivers, who owns day and night, who established the sun, who set all the boundaries of the cosmos. The Psalmist needed to verbalize to himself that no problem of the world had any real power. That’s good news!

Our world may look troubling at times. Psalm 74 reminds us we are not the first to wrestle with what we see in the world. That’s encouraging because I can then look to my predecessors and ask, “When you were discouraged by what you saw in the world, what did you do?” Psalm 74 is one example which tells me to preach the Truth to myself.

“God my king is from ancient times, performing saving acts on the earth.”

I have one advantage over the Psalmist. Where the Psalmist knew God was king and and proclaimed his saving acts done thus far, I’ve seen God’s greatest proof of his power and love. I’ve seen the answer to the world’s problems the Psalmist knew existed, but had not seen. I’ve seen through the Word God himself entering our world, seeing what we see, feeling what we feel, yet triumphing over sin, death, hell, and the grave. I’ve seen God write the final chapter on evil’s time upon the earth. I’ve seen the visible guarantee of His promise that despite the way the world looks now, the new creation will burst through the darkness like the first ray’s of morning light. Night will end. Joy will flourish.

That’s good news!

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