Over the next 2 weeks, as we prepare for Lent, Tasha and I will be preaching on Psalm 71. It is a sweeping Psalm in its perspective on the entirety of human life, seeing the psalmist grow from young to old. Here is a small portion of that Psalm…
“You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
You will increase my honor,
and comfort me once again.”
-Psalm 71: 19b-21
I often hear people talk about how troubling our current times are. People’s anxiety about the state of the world is high, and they struggle to understand it. This anxiety leads to fear and the belief that things have gone off the rails. Certainly our world has its share of problems, but we often forget that the world has always had significant problems. The truth is that we forget the anxieties of the past because we know how those troubles ended. We know, for example, that the Russians never launched nuclear missiles from Cuba. We know the Berlin Wall fell. We know that the oil bust in the 80’s didn’t last. And we know that no major attacks followed September 11. Because we know how these things resolved themselves, we forget the tremendous fear and anxiety which accompanied them and thus we believe things are worse now than they ever have been, even though they actually aren’t. They seem worse because tomorrow has far more uncertainty than yesterday.
The Psalmist understands the issue we have with perspective. And here, near the end of the Psalm, we can hear him calming himself. The Psalmist is offering a reminder to himself and to his readers that God has been faithful in the past. God will, “revive me again,” and God will, “bring me up again.” Finally he writes God will, “comfort me once again.” Again is the key word. God has done it in the past and will do it in the future. God’s fidelity has a timeless aspect to it. Remembering the fidelity of God, experienced in the past, helps shape how the Psalmist sees the future. There were hard days in the Psalmist’s past and God did not abandon him to those days. And God will not abandon you to the hard days.
As you consider the anxiety you feel about the world today, have you considered the fidelity of God? God never promises us life will be easy, or that things will always go our way. But certainly we understand that God promises never to abandon us. God delivers us through our struggles with that same timeless fidelity the Psalmist experienced. Certainly there will be hard days ahead for all of us. There is no doubt. But when they come do not lose yourself or your faith in the anxiety they bring. Instead remember the ways God has helped you and comforted you and saved you in the past. And remember that God will do it again. You are beloved. You live in a hard world. God is with you.
Prayer: Holy God, help us this day to leave our fear and anxieties and remember all you have done for us and our forebears. Give us the strength to face what lies ahead, and the comfort of remembering your fidelity in days past. Thank you for all you have done for us. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.