As a person with anxiety issues, I avoid the news as much as possible. Being a fan of history, I realize the potential fallacy of this head-in-the-sand attitude. But, since most days I have to overcome the challenge of worrying about what my logical mind knows are silly things–like the pine needles on my roof or whether the sugar ants I thought I had conquered in my kitchen will return again–I feel validated in my choice to remain mostly oblivious.
But, I do occasionally watch the news. My first memory of seeing a newscast is standing in the kitchen of our 75-year-old house as the 13-inch black and white television flashed images of Russian soldiers with weapons moving through the woods as if they might burst through the back pantry door any moment. The newscaster said that Russia had developed some kind of weapon that was superior to what our soldiers had in this time of relative peace known as the cold war.
In my fifth grade classroom, first my teacher told us about being a girl our age and hearing about Pearl Harbor. She was a passionate storyteller who painted a vivid picture of her own, innocent world collapsing in around her. Suddenly, the blue sky over the front lawn where she played on the tire swing or rode her bike was an ominous void where planes might bomb her into oblivion at any moment.
That same year, I stood in the library as a television blared reports that our President had been shot. One of my classmates cheered. There were rumors that the teacher standing next to me in the library had snuck out to her vehicle and cried.
I once told a friend of another generation that mine felt like one of the first generations in many to not really be challenged. She, after all, had lost her fiancé in Vietnam. I conveniently forgot that one of my own high school classmates had died serving our country in a war we are for all intents and purposes still fighting.
So, there is nothing new under the sun, it seems. Each generation faces its own share of challenges, whether they be wars against brothers-turned-enemies, economic hardships, or the truly unrelenting power of nature. Each generation must forge its own path to the perseverance that builds character. And every day we choose to take one more step forward, we prove our own heroic spirit.
But the most heroic spirit of all is the humble one that realizes all things good come from the ONE who breathed everything into existence.
I was reminded of this truth as I read through the Psalms this week. In these prayers to God, we learn what it is like to be created and yet in relationship with our Creator. The various authors of the Psalms praise God, plead with God, bargain with God, and even get angry with Him! But, they always, always, submit to God’s superior role in the petitioner’s life.
In Psalms 107 and 118, for example, we see the heights and the depths of the human experience:
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. . . . Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. (Psalm 107:1, 8)
In both these Psalms, besides telling the story of all the good things God has done, the Psalmists also acknowledge their own failings, especially in the face of a perfect God. They know they do not deserve help. They know that they have been punished and may still continue to be punished. But, they also believe in God’s faithfulness. Even though we created things repeatedly reject Him, God never forgets us.
Believing that God is ever faithful, the Psalmist makes a declaration of belief, asking for success even though the Psalmist knows God may not immediately or ever grant it. Still, in the end, the Psalmist knows that God will always love:
This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
Like Job who refused to curse God, even when it seemed like God had taken everything from him, for those who remain constant in the belief that God is faithful, the crazy things that happen in our fallen, cursed world can be placed in the always open hands of a loving Creator. Somehow, knowing that makes facing a fallen world possible.
I commend those who endure so much, but I also acknowledge that any life is a certain act of endurance. Since I have problems with anxiety, your mole hill is probably my mountain, but we both still endure. In the end, the act of being human is not a contest of who had the greatest challenges. It seems to me that the act of being human is all about enduring through our faith in a faithful God.
In a world full of headlines, I think I’ll stick with the banner that hasn’t changed in centuries: HIS faithful love endures forever.
I hope we all walk in stronger faith in the coming days. And if we stumble, then let us turn to the words of others who have gone before us along this same journey. Open His Word to the Psalms and be ready to find a familiar friend who also loves God.
The LORD who shepherds David shepherds all of us. I choose to fear no evil when I choose God.