Lament and Hope in the Face of Evil {Psalm 73}

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wake up and check the news anymore without shock, tears, desperate prayers and opening my bible. It’s easy to ask- why? Why does God allow this again and again? It’s easy to look at people who systematically inflict pain or “terror” on others and feel righteous anger. They seem untouched by the heartache we feel today. A psalmist penned similar struggles and lament when faced with evil that is left unpunished and without any foreseeable justice.

Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression.” Psalm 73:6-8

Sounds about right. He continues:

They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?” This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.”

Lately I have been left with my mouth hanging open, in complete disbelief at the injustice, and lack of redemption around me, but God isn’t done yet. The problem is, when we think that we and most around us lead pretty “good” lives, our reaction is to feel shocked and cheated when the people around us who pursue selfishness and evil to no end receive no consequences that we can see. The psalmist responds, maybe you can relate

Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.”

The “every morning new punishments” really hits home with the news alerts on my phone in recent weeks. Racial tensions. Polarized arguments. Nuclear war threats. Us and them mentalities. Natural disasters. Mass shootings. But the psalmist pivots away from his lament and inability to understand as he turns towards God’s presence. We all need Jesus you guys, from the “I lead a pretty good life” person to the one guilty of a mass shooting. We fail to remedy our pain and offer adequate explanations on our own. We’re left helpless, in need of a Savior.

If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” Psalm 73:15

When we get caught up in our anger and human questioning of God, we are actually stuck having a small view of God, and a large view of ourselves. In the face of incomprehensible horror, we should drop to our knees and worship the One who knows all things and holds all things together- we have to turn away from what we can’t make sense of and instead enter the sanctuary of God(vs.15), His presence and promises are what will remedy our terrified, angry and exhausted hearts.

Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.”

While God desires that no one would perish, He has made a loving way through Jesus, He also is a just God and He will right the wrongs that our hearts long for. We were made in His image and He has instilled our sense of justice, His heart hurts even more than ours do in the wake of tragedy. We are His creation; and He never intended this to be the way we lived. Someday He’s going to make it all right and restore His perfect creation. The psalmist clings to God as he wraps up.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” Psalm 73:18-28

Praying and pleading for God’s nearness to all those affected by the Las Vegas shooting this morning. May God personally take each of our hands, guide us with His counsel and be the only thing we cling to in this life. Jesus, please be our refuge today and everyday, as our flesh and hearts are bound to fail, be the strength of our hearts and our satisfaction forever, amen. #prayforvegas