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?
Whenever I watch a sporting fixture between a big successful team and a small weaker one – which team do I want to win? Always the weaker one (unless the stronger team is England/Britain). I love to see the underdog do well.
For the Nethelands to beat India at Cricket.
For Swindon Town to beat Manchester City at football.
For Fiji to beat New Zealand at Rugby.
We love the underdog. And so, it appears, does God.
God chose Israel as a sign to the world. They didn’t always do a good job, but they were a small nation, surrounded by larger nations – in particular Egypt, Babylon and Assyria – and God championed the underdog. Psalm 83 is a prayer about this:
1 O God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God. 2 See how your enemies growl, how your foes rear their heads. 3 With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish. 4 ‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.’
The prayer is for God to champion Israel against all the nations that were attacking it. Again, the approach here is not what we should be praying – we are not asking for people to be destroyed by God – Jesus makes this clear. All of the Old Testament, including the psalms, needs to be read through the lens of the teaching of Jesus.
But, and it’s a big but, there’s something here that is very valuable – God especially cares for the underdog, and is on their side against their oppressors. Who are the underdogs in the world now that God is interested in? Jesus points us to 2 groups of people – firstly the poor and secondly those followers of Jesus who are under persecution. This is what we can do with this Psalm. Pray that God will act on behalf of the poor of the world, and for those Christians who are being persecuted.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord – that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
God, work on behalf of the poor and the persecuted, so that those who oppress will see you and change their ways. Amen.