joyinchristSometimes we feel as if everything around us is falling to pieces.  Nations, families, schools, the Washington Redskins….  Sometimes we find ourselves thinking that everything around us is stuck in mediocrity.  Our world seems black, white, and shades of gray.  Nothing is what it could or should be.  We are frustrated by how either nothing is happening, or, worse, the wrong things are happening!  At times like these, the concluding thoughts of Psalm 4 might be helpful guards against one of the sorriest tendencies of the human heart.  Too often, we get angry and look for success and solutions wherever and however we can.  If you can, take a moment and read Psalm 4.

David writes this Psalm at a time when he is distressed and has been in need of relief for some time.  He says twice inverse 2, “How long?”  Despite the absence of anything like an answer to those questions, he ends the first part of Psalm 4 with a theological fact:

Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him.

At verse four, the Psalm changes direction.  No longer is thePsalmist addressing himself to God as he was in the first verse, now he addresses the long-suffering godly with a call to avoid anger and continue to worship him correctly and trust him completely.  Isn’t it amazing how often anger overwhelms our hearts when we sense that our world is spinning out of control?  We get angry at politicians, ignorant voters, incompetent family members, horrible coaches…  And we become completely blind to anything that might be occurring in our own hearts!  When we experience this, Psalm 4:4 teaches us that the first thing we should do is make a thorough evaluation of our own hearts and the second thing is keep our mouths shut.  And then we need to get our eyes focused on God.

Here is where the question comes up: “Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?'”  When we are experiencing long periods of distress, whatever the source or cause of it, we want to see “good!”  The trouble is that we will start looking everywhere.  In those places we choose to look we will try to generate goodness in our lives, our families, our churches…  and it is easy to manufacture a kind of “goodness” that comes with big harvests and lots of wine.  When we are in distress, when we are trying to restrain our anger and keep our mouths shut, we can and often do look to earthly cures (See Genesis 15:18 – 16:2).  But we are not to look for it there.  Instead, we must look to God himself:  “Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’  Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.  You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you a lone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” The good we seek is in the smile of God.

Christians, you will have some terrible times in your lives (Matt. 6:34). Sometimes long seasons of trouble.  And you may endure months of going to bed at night and struggling with anger.  But as you lay tossing and turning trying to find “good” trying to solve real or imagines problems, trying to accomplish more or fail less, do not fall into the trap of counting harvests and tasting mere wine.  Instead, seek the blessing of God himself.  Call out to him on behalf of your communities, families, churches:

“Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.”

For our part, the ministry of this church will continue to pray and declare to you the same (Numbers 6:24-26):

The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Your Pastor,
Bob Bjerkaas

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