FROM TROUBLE TO HOPE
Loving Lord, you are the master of all things great and small. I’m thankful your grace is sufficient for all things in my life.
Read PSALM 10
1 Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
your laws are rejected by[b] him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”
7 His mouth is full of lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
9 like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, “God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees.”
12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘… answer me speedily on the day when I call.’1
As I write, the world is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. Many thousands have already died, and who knows how many more by the time you read this? The virus is a deadly enemy, albeit not a human one, and our psalm today speaks very clearly into the trouble we’re facing. Psalms of lament, like this one, rarely identify a specific enemy, so they are applicable to a wide range of situations. If your current trouble is different, replace the virus illustration with that.
So who are the ‘wicked’ (v 2) for you? With my example, is it the virus itself? Or people who are infecting others through selfishness or carelessness? So often such people are also enemies of God (vs 3–6). Although we should not anthropomorphize a virus, the words of verses 7–11 are something like the experience of lockdown and the fear that the disease will strike us too. It feels as if it is lurking secretly, ambushing people; many thousands have already been killed by it.
In the midst of fear and uncertainty, however, there is hope. Verses 12–18 are a natural outpouring to God by those who know him. A cry for God to wake up; an urgent question – ‘why?’ – and then a note of trust. God does see and care; he can do something about it. Although we are helpless in the face of this trouble we can and do commit ourselves to him. We can ask him to ‘Break the arm’ (v 15) of this virus (or whatever trouble you are currently experiencing); a broken arm cannot wield a sword. A final prayer of committed trust: God will hear and will strengthen the hearts of those crying out to him. He will – in his own good time – bring justice and peace.
Father, with you all things are possible. I am in your loving hands.
Lord, I want to honor you by living a self-giving life, not a self-serving life. I know it will only be by you that this will be done. Grant me your special grace and strength.
1 Ps 102:2, NRSV
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