Wednesday Word: Seeing the Goodness of God
Many are saying, “Oh, that we might see better times!” * Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O Lord. – Ps. 4:6
Psalm 4 was one of the appointed psalms for Evening Prayer on Monday, and it is a psalm that I have heard many times over the years.
As the COVID pandemic of 2020 moved into 2021 and now stretches into 2022, I hear or read sentiments along the lines of Ps. 4:6. People are tired. Tired of the pandemic. Tired of trying to make ends meet with part-time, minimum wage jobs that provide no benefits. Tired of wondering why we have money to create and maintain a fifth branch of the military but no money for universal health care or reducing the cost of life-saving drugs. Tired of flipping from in-person to online venues. Tired of arguments about vaccinations and masks. Oh, that we might see better times!
The psalmist, and most likely all of us, cry out for better times. We cry out for God to pour some sunshine into our lives. Because, really, wouldn't that be wonderful if God would just wave a magic wand (or finger or whatever) and put an end to the pandemic and restore everything to something that we felt good about?
But this been the cry of the faithful forever – “How long, oh Lord, how long?”
Sometimes that cry is necessary. But sometimes it only serves to shift the blame or the responsibility to God for things that we could very well take care of if we worked toward those goals.
I know we are all tired of the pandemic. We are all feeling any number of pressures and stressors. These past two years haven't been ideal, and 2022 doesn't seem to be off to a bright, shining start. But in the midst of the psalmist's lament, there is also a shift from asking God to provide better times to seeing better times in the world around him.
The next verse of the psalm reads, “You have put gladness in my heart, more than when grain and wine and oil increase.”
May we not be so focused on verse 6 that we miss out on verse 7. In the dumpster fire of 2020 and 2021, and continuing to burn into 2022, let us recognize that not everything is bad. Let us recognize that God has put joy and gladness in our hearts – we just need to be willing to actively pursue God's goodness in a manner that shapes how we view the world around us.
Let us recognize that God has put gladness in our hearts; more gladness than all the good things of the earth.