Monday, September 13, 2010

"Quick, get to the Stronghold!"

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9

As someone reading my last blog might of guessed, I've been going through a difficult time. God's felt distant, I've felt useless and have been spending an inordinate amount of time trying to comfort myself with what the world offers.

Well, as I was reading a rivetting novel the other night (Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games. Warning: Don't start reading because you won't put it down and it will consume your every waking moment as well as some of your sleeping ones! So check it out.) Melissa casually mentioned that maybe I should open my Bible and read a bit. The audacity!

I did, all but huffing and puffing about simplistic, spiritual and legalistic responses to suffering. "I'll probably just open up to Leviticus," I thought. I didn't. I opened up to Psalm 9 and read the words above.

I was reminded of my stronghold, that even in times like these, when I have an unresponsive and dead heart, God is my refuge. I went on to skim through Psalm 10 (I had to skim because I wanted to get back to my novel). In Psalm 10 I heard David asking these words, "Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" "Exactly!" I thought.

But then in verses 14 and 17 I read the words, "But you do see" and "Oh Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted." David knew that while God felt far off, while he seemed to hide himself in times of trouble, he wasn't distant at all. He was present, he did see and hear all that was going on in David's heart and life.

Do I believe this? Most of the time I don't. I'm sort of stuck on the first question, "LORD, why do you stand far off?" But the truth is he doesn't. That's why he's my rock and fortress. A resting place for the suffering and oppressed.

So how do we believe all this Psalm craziness in the 21st century? It is the 21st century after all, and our suffering doesn't include rocks, sticks and the occasional spear heading for your head.

I've often blown off the Psalms because of this. David knew real suffering. But the more I read, the more I think that his enemies were often in his head, or spiritual in nature. He had too many enemies for all of them to be guys with dissheveled beards, hanging around and slapping the occasional camel with the backs of their swords. We have internal enemies and an enemy that wants nothing but to bring us down and disconnect us from our father.

So I believe God is directly addressing this suffering and discontent that so often reigns in my heart through these Psalms. It's encouraging stuff, and it's not just cheap therapy, but a real and lasting hope that we have a God who is a "stronghold for the oppressed." My desire is to take my restlessness and suffering to the only healer I know. And for the record, Melissa was right for once.

No comments: