I read these words in an article recently:
“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. I hope this one helps you develop life patterns that minimize the inevitable and maximize your well being long past the current moment.”
An interesting article and an even more interesting thought!
The psalmist in this remarkable psalm 66 didn’t waste his crisis. He came through it with a greater determination than before to be the person that God expected him to be. Speaking directly to God, he said:
13 I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
and fulfill my vows to you—
14 vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
when I was in trouble.
15 I will sacrifice fat animals to you
and an offering of rams;
I will offer bulls and goats.
Now, I realize that this is probably not what we will be saying to God in the midst of a Novel Coronavirus Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, but in his context, this was ok.
Maybe the Passion Translation puts it closer to our words:
I come before your presence with my sacrifice.
I’ll give you all that I’ve promised, everything I have.
14 When I was overcome in my anguish,
I promised to give you my sacrifice.
Here it is! All that I said I would offer you is yours.
15 The best I have to bring, I’ll throw it all into the fire
as the fragrance of my sacrifice ascends unto you.
I wonder, what does God want of us at this time in our lives? There are many thoughts about how we as lovers of God can understand what is happening in the world at this time. Just maybe, as John Piper puts it, this pandemic is a “thunderclap of divine mercy” calling people (including you and me) to repent and turn to Him giving him the glory and honour He deserves. (“How do we make sense of the coronavirus?” – Ask Pastor John podcast)
Whatever, it is an opportunity for all of us to get more serious about our relationship with God, take more time with those who we love, forgive those who have hurt us, question some of our doubtful priorities and even ‘get our house in order’. You have to admit, and a crisis such as we are in should help us to remember this, the reality is that there are really no certainties in life (outside those promised by God in His word, the Bible). We are ultimately not in control. We are not (as some would have us believe) “the master of my fate…the captain of my soul.” (W E Henley)
And so, the psalmist concludes:
All you lovers of God who want to please him,
come and listen, and I’ll tell you what he did for me.
17 I cried aloud to him with all my heart and he answered me!
Now my mouth overflows with the highest praise.
18 Yet if I had closed my eyes to my sin,
the Lord God would have closed his ears to my prayer.
19 But praises rise to God,
for he paid attention to my prayer and answered my cry to him!
20 I will forever praise this God who didn’t close his heart when I prayed
and never said no when I asked him for help.
He never once refused to show me his tender love. (TPT)
“In the closing verses, the psalmist touches a principle of prayer common to the Old Testament and New. To ‘cherish iniquity in the heart’ (v 18), in other words wilfully to entertain known sin, to live at peace with some evil thing, unopposed and unjudged, is to frustrate prayer.
If God demanded perfection in those who come to Him, none could come; but He does demand that we do battle with sin, confess it, and in His name endeavour to overcome it…[and so we read that] In His mercy [God] forgave acknowledged sin, and with the forgiveness His ear was open to the penitent’s prayer.” (# 37)
May God give us his grace in these days to not waste the opportunity he gives us to know Him and serve him better. Amen.