The first casualties of upheaval can be love, kindness, and patience. But crisis is also a moment when love for God & one another can spring up. For 150 days, starting on 17th March 2020, I will write 300 words based on one of the 150 psalms in the bible. How can I find and give love in the midst of coronavirus?
I was asked this week if there was a self-help book that has actually helped me, and I would recommend. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes, it’s How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.” I recommend this book to so many people – it has been so helpful. Dr RT Kendall (well-known pastor & speaker) said he thinks every pastor should read it. The first chapter is called “Don’t kick over the hive when collecting honey.” and it is all about not criticising, condemning or complaining to & about other people. The reason for this is that every one of us believes that we are in the right – almost all the time and therefore criticism almost never works.
This is a problem when we read the psalms. Particularly psalm 35. For example:
11 Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about. 12 They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved. 13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. 15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge. They slandered me without ceasing. 16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me.
David is complaining, and asking for help with all the people that he feels are against him. They are bad, I am good he says. This is one of the challenges with reading and praying the psalms – because whilst there are occasions when we clearly know other people are behaving badly and we can pray for deliverance – most of the time the problem is with us. It’s not that they are the problem – we are the problem.
We need to read the psalms through the ‘lense of Jesus’ – and His view is that it is not alright to go through life thinking everyone else is in the wrong – and we are alright. In fact, the opposite should be true. When Jesus says “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4) he is talking about blessed are those who take full responsibility for their own sin – not blaming others.
So, if we see injustice around us or in the world. Then pray this psalm for that situation – but let’s not use it as an excuse to ask God to help us against all the ‘idiots’ around us – Jesus doesn’t give us that option.
But, and it’s a big but. There is one verse buried in this psalm that caught me by surprise:
27 May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, ‘The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.’
Did you hear that? The Lord delights in the well-being of his servant. That is amazing. God wants me not to blame others, to take responsibility for my own rubbish – but he also delights in my well-being. Take that wonderful promise into your day today.
Much love, Matt