Having lived in Pakistan for 11 years I recognized that for the many poor people of that land (and many others in a similar situation throughout the world) life is one continual struggle just to survive. The struggle is against poverty, oppression, lack of education, lack of adequate health care, corruption, lack of resources generally and a struggle often against a system that caters to the well-off and offers little to the down-trodden.
But, sadly, as much as we in more affluent nations see about this in the media, we still can’t really enter into these struggles. We too often seem to consider ourselves exempt, entitled or even immune to such struggles – until something like Covid-19 strikes!
I recently read an interesting true story and here is the introduction. It is called “E. Coli 0157 – A Mother’s Battle with a Killer Microbe” by Mary Heersink. She writes:
“Everything was good. Everything worked.
This was our worldview. We were husband and wife. In the dark we’d hold each other, and our comfortable philosophy, close to our hearts. We’d embrace it, marvel at it. Make wishes we’d never have to revive it.
Both of us had been blessed from birth with good things. Everything was in place. We were grateful to our fate, our backgrounds, our education, and our genetics for all that life provided.
Four children slept in upstairs bedrooms blanketed in the security that they would wake up to love. In their bodies, complex, well-functioning processes continued all night as they turned and dreamed and grew.
It was how it always was.
It was how it always would be.
Everything worked. Everything was good.”
All this changed the day their son was “rushed to hospital on the point of collapse…a deadly infection ravaged his major organs one by one…the culprit – E.Coli, a drug resistant form of bacteria…”
When we read the Psalms, sometimes it hard to put ourselves in their place. We realize that these people all too often lived in difficult times – times when they struggled against the elements, against enemies within their own society and against cruel external enemies. Strangely enough, just the perfect situation for people to build into their lives a genuine faith and dependence upon God and not in themselves.
And so, we move onto Psalm 68 where the psalmist, David, is seeking God’s intervention in difficult times. He says:
1 May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
2 May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
3 But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
4 Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.6 God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Note the mention of some of the things (bold print above) in the psalmist’s life that were issues for him and his society – things like enemies, foes, the wicked, the fatherless, widows, the lonely, prisoners and the rebellious!
And so, considering these things, in faith, he cries out to God to arise, to intervene and do the right thing concerning these issues that make his and others lives so very difficult. To enable him and them to again be glad, to rejoice and to be happy and joyful in God. He desires to again sing to God, sing praise to his name, to rejoice before the One whose name is the Lord.
Later in this psalm he confidently proclaims:
19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour,
who daily bears our burdens.
20 Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.
This is a prayer/poem of trust in God during tough times. God is our God and He will daily bear our burdens. Our God, who is a God who saves, even from death by Covid-19. But, if he doesn’t, he can still be trusted!
As the prophet Daniel’s friends said to the King who sought to kill them for not bowing down to an idol:
16 …we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
God can be trusted whatever our circumstances!
We just celebrated Easter, when Jesus took the bearing of our burdens to the extreme. As Paul says,
9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Lord, help us to trust you during this difficult time, recognizing the often-greater suffering of others as well. Thank you for being willing to suffer on that cross for our sins. Thank you that this was not the end though, and as you rose again from the dead, so shall we who trust in you, also rise to eternal life. Amen