We live in a way that appreciates justice and fairness; we don’t expect to be treated unfairly or unjustly, and when we see it occur it quickly wrangles us. We wonder why God doesn’t step in. Why does God allow suffering in our world? And why do good people seem to suffer the most?
We know such questions are not easily answered.
Psalm 83 contends with the silence of God within the midst of battle with an ungodly confederation of nations:
O God, do not keep silence;
do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
~Psalm 83:1 (NRSV)
ANALYSING WHERE OUR FOCUS IS
The context of this Psalm is one that is familiar to us, also. Even though the psalmist, attributed as Asaph, laments the international spread of wickedness against his holy nation, we tend to notice the many things against us. Both global and personal concerns become swamped in negativity.
The original circumstance was the equivalent of a world war for the Judeans; every pagan nation seemed against them. If the site of this original setting was during Jehoshaphat’s reign (2 Chronicles 20) we can see how dire the situation was.
But King Jehoshaphat did instinctively what any good king would do; he submitted calmly upon prayer to his God.
We can panic in being overwhelmed or we can remain calm and have faith that God will save us. Not that such a focus is easy in any respect. It is the art of refocusing, from the forlorn outlook to a hopeful perspective that chooses to remember the goodness and faithfulness of the LORD.
ACTUALLY REMAINING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHAOTIC LIFE
Whilst most won’t relate, personally, with the war analogy, we all relate with the chaotic nature of life. We might feel isolated and overwhelmed by many factors or a significant factor or two we cannot contend with. We wonder why life has become like this. We wonder why God remains silent. We hope against hope that things will change, but they don’t.
In the midst of a struggle we hope for peace, but peace can only come in the acceptance of the struggle – for the source of our struggling we often cannot do much about.
Though Jehoshaphat was afraid in his context, he didn’t refrain from acting; from doing the things he could do to bring about the LORD’S favour. That’s an important lesson for us. Our fear can as easily be a catapult out of trouble than a calamity which stands to paralyse us. Jehoshaphat’s situation came around to the point that all Judah’s enemies that were set against it destroyed each other. Because he didn’t panic, and sought the LORD, all turned out well, eventually.
We don’t know why God remains silent in suffering. But when we turn to God in our troubles we open the way to calmness of spirit, and we become the least of our troubles. Then God can work miracles – when we steadily move out of Divine way.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.