1The Lord is my light and my salvation--
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life--
of whom shall I be afraid?
2When the wicked advance against me
to devour27:2 Or slander me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
6Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
10Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
I haven't written in a long time. Grad school and a couple personal battles of mine have kept me from wanting to declare God's goodness... but that has to end as of now.
While Ukrainians are in the literal fight of their lives, I have suddenly taken to the airwaves on Facebook blasting out support for their struggle, and trying to exhort anyone who still pays attention to my posts to gird themselves for what could potentially be a long, bloody struggle that will likely foist previously-unknown hardships on the whole world.
A good pastor once told me, "your message comes from your mess." Though the Devil has been trying to cow me into keeping my mouth shut about the bitter disappointment and struggle I'm daily enduring, I've finally come to the realization that Paul had, when he said, "I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" I need to share the fact that, although my disappointments are huge and my walk with God has been much more of a struggle than ever before, my faith still hangs by a thread.
Another good friend of mine (also a seminary graduate) recently shared a very helpful perspective on struggling with one's faith. He said, if you have even a modicum of belief that Jesus Christ might be who he said he is, that faith is the work and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Though I've been deeply angry at God for difficulties which are frankly very self-caused, I'm still unable to shake the fundamental belief that a right relationship with Jesus Christ is essential to eternal life.
I don't have much spiritual fruit these days. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are a daily struggle for me to maintain. The roots of bitterness are strangling much of what I used to love about myself. Nevertheless, I am forced to remind myself daily of just how many incredible blessings I truly enjoy, if I'm honest with myself.
Back to the main point of my post:
It feels bizarrely like 1939 again, when a bully is terrorizing his European neighbors. Although everyone inherently understands that he must be stopped, nobody can stomach the idea of another European war. Whether or not we find ourselves drawn into a general world war again, I don't think it's the least bit unfair to say that we're living in historic and unprecedented times. We must resolve, as previous heroes of the faith have done throughout the centuries, to patiently endure whatever monumental and ordinary struggles God places upon us during the few and evil days of our journey on this earth.
I would also like to implore all Americans, regardless of their political stripes, to put aside the petty hatreds that have come to define our discourse. It is both un-American and un-Christian to allow rancorous discourse and partisan loyalties to come before our national good. Let's all pray together for peace...and prepare materially and spiritually for war.
God, guide our swords, and may we never trust in them for our salvation.