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Clear Words

Clear Words – Where are you God? (Psalms 10:1)

Today’s Reading: Psalms 10-17

Today’s Reflection: Psalms 10:1

Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?  Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

How many Christian or Gospel songs do you know that begin: God, where are you?  Why have you left me?

The Psalms were Israel’s hymnbook.  Songs written by King David and worship leaders like Asaph, this collection of 150 song lyrics were representative of the music composed to praise God.  Shocking then that nearly a third of them contain distinctly negative themes or ideas: abandonment by God, despair over challenges or trials, feelings of guilt and condemnation over sin, being overwhelmed by one’s enemies, sorrow, depression, persecution.

Not exactly feel good stuff, but looking at Israel’s history it’s easy to see where these feelings and expressions came from.  More importantly, even when a Psalm started out this way, it always contained a declaration of faith in God’s essential and eternal goodness, and assurance that He would come through and deliver His people at the right time—as Psalms 10 does in its closing verses.

16) The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land.  17) O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear 18) to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

I have often debated with friends the quality of Christian art—music, movies, TV shows, books, etc.—and typically I find them to be lacking…  something.  The treacly, sweet, overly positive and upbeat worship songs get tiring after a while, the movies and books with their overly simplistic and too coincidental happy endings start to ring false.  It was when I examined the Psalms that I realized the real issue: authenticity.  The bravery to be honest and admit that sometimes life following God is hard.  There is pain, there are difficulties, friends do let you down, sometimes even your own church family betrays you.  This is real, and stories and songs that depicted these realities would give people something to relate to during tough times, and it would give them permission to be honest when they’re hurting.

In fact, we do God a disservice when we fail to tell the bad as well as the good in life.  Because the truth is God is good even when life is not.  God is finding blessings for us out of the muck of our dark circumstances.  He finds reward for us in trial, and honours us through our heartbreak and pain.  And when we fail to tell this part of the story, we fail to show God’s complete goodness to those who follow Him, the heritage that says we are blessed when we lack just as much as when we have plenty.

It’s time for Christian artists to embrace the complete truth of this life, and the God who is good at all times and through all circumstances.

Philippians 4:11-13 – 11) Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12) I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13) I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

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