Come walk with me God and see the perpetual desolations. This is the plea of Asaph in Psalm 74:3. Asaph does not just complain about what is happening, but like having the general in an army at his side, asks God to see and evaluate the destruction of his homeland. I am heartbroken at times for the lack of resources for the needy, the unmitigated cruelty on the defenseless, and the loneliness of the elderly, the orphan, and the widowed. Feeling helpless is not in my nature, yet I do not have control over tragic circumstances, addiction, financial needs, medical distress, and the broken relationships of the people I bring to God in prayer. Like Asaph, I want to call on God to “remember.” Remember the unexplained, unfair acts of nature; remember the greed and envy of the takers in this world; remember the harsh criticisms spoken in reproach; remember that all this harm is not just against the oppressed but against God, Himself. Yet also Asaph speaks confidence in his God who has miraculously defeated these enemies in the past. “The day is Yours, the night also is Yours, You have prepared the light and the sun. You have set all the borders of the earth. You have made summer and winter.” (Psalm 74:16,17). What a powerful argument in pleading for God’s divine intervention!
The very next Psalm sings praises to God from Asaph’s heart of faith. Asaph declares that God is near, that God will not be rushed, and that God is the Judge. These words bring a sense of comfort and relief knowing that I do not have to be in control. Though my tears and mourning lead me to pray, my helplessness leads me to let go and trust. I am especially encouraged when my Christian brothers and sisters join in my prayers for deliverance. Asaph also speaks to not only his own faith but that of his countrymen. He says that God is known by Israel. I am reminded about Jesus Christ’s words in John 10:27-30. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”
From this posture of dependence on God, Asaph (and we) declare that Almighty God is in control. There is no weakness in saying to God, “You, Yourself, are to be feared; And who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry?” If we could see God’s warring angels as if standing on a mountain looking down at the battle, I think we would fall to our knees in our fear of the Lord. Note that the “fear of the Lord” has two connotations – for the righteous, the fear of the Lord produces awe, wonder, adoration, and worship. Being God’s beloved, we who know His voice and are called His sons and daughters would be overcome by the extent that God will go to fight for us. For God’s enemies, the fear of the Lord is terror, hatred, and an overwhelming need to escape. His presence will cause them to shriek the words in Revelation 6:16, “They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!”
Lest some think that I have spiritualized these passages as if judgment and the final days of earth are of little consequence to our everyday lives, I ask that we consider the eternal existence of every soul. To quote my favorite author, C. S. Lewis, from his book The Weight of Glory, “The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
Knowing that our requests to God are divinely purposed to impact the immortal souls all around us, shall we be flippant or negligent in praying for God’s intervention?
Father, God, You are the Almighty! I humbly bring my prayers, supplications, and petitions to You, knowing that You are in control. Let me see Your works when mine are useless. Let me feel Your presence in the midst of turmoil when I want to run away. Let me confidently declare Your goodness to those even weaker in the flesh than I. For You have created us in Your image and for eternity. You alone are worthy to receive honor, glory, and power. Bless the Lord!
Lewis, C. S. (Clive Staples). The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses. HarperOne, 2001.