This is Day 10 of 31 Days of Hope-filled Living. To start over with Day 1, click here.
God remembers those in need. Though they might feel disappointed today, their hopes will one day come to reality.
– Psalm 9:18
Yahweh, you have heard the desires of the humble and seen their hopes. You will hear their cries and encourage their hearts. GOD, you’ve taken notice of these small, hopeful people. Even when they cry out in need, you’ll hear them and answer.
– Psalm 10:17
There is hope for the oppressed and needy
The mere idea that the Maker of the Stars would listen to the cries of the needy is humbling. Twice in one verse, the Psalmist repeats that God hears the desires and hopes and needy cries, and that He will answer. This was a big deal in Bible times, just as it is today.
The Hebrew word for “oppressed” in Psalm 10:17 is the word anav, which means poor, afflicted, humble, meek. In the Bible, we see God labeling these people together with the oppressed: widows, orphans, poor & needy, heavy-burdened, strangers/foreigners/immigrants, prisoners, sick/afflicted, weak, destitute/homeless, and victims of violence. God saw, heard, and listened to the cries of these people. He was not unmoved.
Today we see the same kinds of oppression and the people who suffer it all around us. God hears their cries and He is moved to compassion with action for justice. We see it in every ally who stands up to defend the oppressed, bring justice to the defenseless, and provide generously for the needy. We see God working through people who care for one another. He is not unmoved.
But it does get hard sometimes, doesn’t it? Hopelessness sets in as we see an endless stream of oppression in every direction, if we open our eyes and hearts. Ecclesiastes 7:7 says, “Surely oppression drives the wise into madness,” and who among us isn’t mad from the oppression piled high as the sky, like bodies piled next to redwoods.
I read recently that the proliferation of men who abuse women has made an entire society numb to this violence. We don’t even see the oppression. We don’t hear the cries of the oppressed.
“For women and men involved in the battered women’s or rape crisis movements, especially those who deal daily with victims, convincing people—especially men—of the urgency of the situation may appear to belabor the obvious. Doesn’t everyone already realize how big a problem this is? Don’t they know there are survivors in their own families? Well, not necessarily. A lot of people cannot face the ugly reality—or don’t want to. It is important to remember that coming to terms with the extent of the problem can be disorienting, and profoundly disruptive. As a man, once you are aware of the degree to which women suffer from gender violence and all forms of sexism, you can’t simply go about your business and pretend everything is fine. You have to do something about it, or else risk losing your self-respect. This is where denial comes in. Denial is a tried and true method of coping with disruptive, traumatic, or discomforting information; it is much less painful than facing the truth. Not to mention that many Americans are so desensitized by repeated exposure to violence of all kinds—in their own lives, on the news, and in the popular culture—that denial isn’t even necessary.”
– Jackson Katz in The Macho Paradox
And so maybe we’ve felt the madness as wise people who are surrounded by oppression in a culture of fools who deny and are desensitized to it. Maybe it’s gotten painfully maddening to look at the women around us who are brutalized, or the homeless that line the streets in tents, or the orphans on the streets longing for someone to accept them for who they’ve chosen to be. Maybe we’ve lost some hope that God even hears our own cries of suffering above the cacophony of the oppressed.
Let me be the one to remind you today, Beloved Friend—God is here and He is listening. This verse is true, I know it. I see Him rescuing the orphan today as my husband shows me the photos and tells me to pick one to sponsor. I hear him comforting the cries of the battered sister as she is set free from her abuser. I see Him providing freedom to the sex slave through organizations and restoration homes around the world. I hear Him sending ambassadors like me into prisons to give encouragement and love to men and women behind bars. And I feel Him listening to my prayers and answering them over and over on behalf of the oppressed.
I am not forgotten. You are not forgotten. She is not forgotten. Remember that God sent a messenger through space and time to tell you about His love, and because you are reading these words, He reminds you to hold onto hope today. To hold onto the One who holds you, for He hears you.
Hope How-to: I know it’s hard to keep your faith when oppression prevails all around you. It gets tempting to believe that maybe God doesn’t really care. The times when I face this most is when I’m disengaged from participating in fighting for justice for the oppressed, when I’ve failed to help or give or speak. The truth is, God works most often THROUGH His kids and His Church and through people who care enough to take action. Why? I think it’s because He wants us to have the joy of bringing justice with Him. He wants to share the happiness that comes with generosity. Today, reflect on one or more things you can do to cooperate with God on behalf of serving the oppressed in your community. Can you donate time or money to a battered women’s shelter? Can you sponsor rescue for sex slaves? Can you sponsor food, clothing, and schooling for the poor? And the next time you’re feeling like you’re the oppressed one, remember how much God cared for the ones He allowed you to help. He loves you. He hears you. He listens to your cries.
Prayer: Oh, God. We are overwhelmed, and even sometimes numb to the oppression we witness and experience. I pray for my reader, Lord, and ask that you would speak to her heart in Your unfailing lovingkindness. Remind her that You are not only the Maker of the Stars, but a God who listens and cares. You hear her cries and you send compassion and help through her to others and through others to her. Remind us all of the hope we have in You and in Your justice. Even if we don’t see Justice now, we know there will come a day for it. Help us to trust You and recognize your work in our world. Show us how to not only pray for Your will on earth as it is in Heaven, but to cooperate with You in the ways we can make it come to be. Amen
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This is Day 7 of 31 Days of Hope-filled Living. To start over with Day 1, click here.
“I wait for the Lord. My soul waits and I hope in His Word.My soul waits for the Lord more than one who watches for the morning; yes, more than one who watches for the morning.O Israel, hope in the Lord! For there is loving-kindness with the Lord. With Him we are saved for sure.”
– Psalm 130:5-7
God’s Word is a treasure chest of hope
The beginning of this Psalm is a man in anguish. Despair and apparently sin left the author (likely David or Solomon) doing some soul searching and some God-searching. In order to strengthen his soul, he reminds himself in song that even in the deepest darkness, hope can be found in God. In verse five, the Hebrew word for Word is dabar, which means word, speech, matter, or thing. Essentially, stuff from God. In other words he’s saying,
“I’m feeling terribly depressed about my life and my choices, but I’m waiting on God’s help and putting my trust in godly stuff to help me feel better and do better.”
“The great test of faith is to wait on God . . . not expecting to push a button and get whatever we want now.”
– A.W. Tozer
It’s become a cheesy Christian-ese trope to say “wait on God and trust in His Word” but that doesn’t make it untrue or unbiblical. I wish I could push that imaginary “get what I want now” button Tozer mentions, but I can’t. I’ve had to wait for just about everything I ever wanted. Now, finally in my 40s, I’m finding some results coming to pass that I’ve prayed years for, believing and trusting and doing my part to try to be faithful. I’m talking about stuff I’ve asked God for since I was a teenager. And there’s also a whole lot of prayers I’m still waiting on God to answer. I have a feeling it will be several more years.
Waiting is tough on the old hope muscle, isn’t it? The Bible even says in Proverbs that hope deferred makes a heart sick. But waiting also makes hope strong, if we’re leaning into God’s promises in His Word. Because He is faithful. And when, after waiting, we find that His promises have come to pass, our own faith grows, as does our hope that He will show up for us with the same faithfulness again in our future.
I remember a span of about three years when my son was an infant and toddler that he struggled with painful ear infections month after month. It seemed like just as he was getting over one, another one would start, along with his pain-filled cries that lasted through nearly every night. I begged God to heal him for the better part of those three years, seemingly to no avail. I wondered how I could twist Jesus’s arm into letting my baby boy off the hook of suffering, or at least to let me bear it for him. Only to be met with another ear infection the following month. That waiting was hard. There are few things more difficult in life than helplessly watching your child suffer. Eventually, he had surgery to insert tubes and God also showed me some natural solutions to prevent and address the susceptibility in his ears. I discovered God as a healer in a fresh and hugely faith-building way. And I found His comfort in the moment for Josiah, and for me as well. I called Him out on His promises to heal my baby, just as He called me out on my part to wait for His timing, plan, and comfort to arrive.
Have you been there, Reader? Are you there right now? When you’re waiting on the answer to a prayer, hope is stretched thin. The strong rope that once bound you to faith in Jesus now feels like a thread that could snap any moment while the waiting drags on. But you’re not alone, Dear One. The Psalmist had to put his hope in God-stuff, in His Word. He had to wait for the promise to arrive without a magical “give-it-to-me-now” button too. And I know how precarious hope can get when it feels like things will never get better and the answer will never arrive. Allow the faith of others to buoy you up above the waves of hopelessness today. Waiting is hard, but so is weight-training. They both give you strong muscles, though one is for your spirit, and the other is for your body.
Hope How-to: What have you been waiting for in prayer for a long time? How does it affect your emotions or your faith when you realize that you have to keep waiting for it? When it comes to God’s Word, are there any Bible stories or verses that encourage you to keep going when you want to give up? Talk to God with your voice or your pen & journal about what you’re waiting for and what it truly feels like to have to keep waiting. Be honest; He wants that. Then take that Bible reference and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day: on your steering wheel or the refrigerator or your bathroom mirror. Let God’s Word strengthen your faith, hope, and ability to wait a little bit longer, because the answer is truly on the way.
Prayer: Oh, Father, I come before you today on behalf of my Reader and I ask that You would speak a specific and special Word to her spirit that will sustain her hope. Please give her strength to wait as long as she needs to for your promises to come to pass. Thank you for sending your Son to become a human so that we can now have an advocate on Your right hand who understands how hard it is to wait, and how easy it is to let hope fade. Bless my Reader today with words, speech, and matters from Your heart to hers. Show her a fresh vision of what You have in store that will revive her hope once more. Your Word is precious, Lord; it is a chest full of Your treasures and love. It is a demonstration of Your faithfulness, and if You showed up for Your kids before, we know You can do it again. Thank you, Father.
If you’re enjoying these posts about hope, I’d be honored if you would share them on your social media or in a friend’s inbox. Who knows, maybe God wants to use these words to give someone else a little more hope today too.
“He will not forget the needs of the poor. One day the needy will be remembered, and their hopes will not be forever dashed in disappointment.”
God remembers those in need. Though they might feel disappointed today, their hopes will one day come to reality.
It’s common and easy to think thoughts like this: Why don’t I have what I want and need? If God loves me, why doesn’t He help me? Has He forgotten about me? I’ve lost hope, and I feel like it’s been dashed. Like I’ve been dashed with a wrecking ball of disappointment.
These thoughts are not unique, though your situation and feelings are, to you. People have had thoughts like these since Bible times, as evident by the emotion-and-vulnerability-filled book of Psalms. If people didn’t think this way back then, God wouldn’t have had to admonish them about His faithfulness. Yes, humanity faces poverty and lack, and that often causes us to wonder if a loving, providing God has forgotten about us. That wondering thought is not new, and if you’ve ever felt that way, or if you’re feeling it now, my Dear, you are not alone.
A few relationships with relatives and friends feel hopeless to me lately. This one never calls, that one is refusing cancer treatment, this one is isolating because of depression and emotional distress, that one is chronically ill and can’t visit during a pandemic. My hope is fading for these situations to improve, for these relationships to be restored. Have you ever been there? Me too.
The word dashed in this verse is the Hebrew word abad, which means to perish or die. Have you ever felt like your hope was dead, lifeless, or too far gone? The picture this verse is painting is that for the poor and needy whose hope has stopped living, there is a resurrection of that hope on the way.
Your hope will breathe again, Dear One.
Let God resuscitate that which has been dashed or killed in you. His love and goodness is surely on the way.
Hope waits for a future expectation of goodness, which is currently not here. One day, someday, the needy will be remembered, and their hopes will not forever be dashed. When will the day come that what you hope for comes to pass? When you’re truly ready and when God deems best, not only according to your desires, but according to what’s best for you and your community as well. In the meantime of this waiting, your hope is what holds you, like a rope, connecting this moment to that.
Hope How-to: Has some part of your hope been dashed? Take about 15 minutes and journal about any hopes that seem dead, and what effects have resulted. Include in your writing any requests you’re ready to make for God to resurrect those hopes, renewed by your faith in Him and your willingness to surrender to His plan. Reflect on what you’ve written and then pray to your father about these matters.
Prayer: Jesus, I pray for my Reader today and ask that You revive the hope that has been dashed. Please offer her a fresh perspective and renew her patience to wait on You and Your timing. Holy Spirit, bring your power upon her in a tangible way so that in all of the places she has felt poor and needy, she can trust that Your provision on the way, and that You will become a sustaining cord of hope, holding her and drawing her from this day until that future day when the object of her hope becomes her reality. For the gifts she can’t yet see or hold, revive her hope and give her fresh grace and joy today as she waits on You. Thank you, Father, Amen
I hope (see what I did there) that you’ve benefited from these words, Dear Reader. If so, I’d be delighted to send you some more! Just go ahead and slip your email into the subscribe box so that you can catch all the hope coming at you from my Nest.
(from a message I spoke recently at a women’s event)
Picture a garden of flowers and vegetables next to a yard of grass. Brilliant flowers, succulents, and lovely, green, lush lawn bring a smile to your face when you step outside of your back door.
But, then, when you look closer, you notice a weed. Maybe it’s a broadleaf dandelion, horsetail, colewort, fireweed, spurge, bindweed, or stinging nettle. Even the names of weeds are horrible, aren’t they?
Some have sharp bristles and many cause hay fever.
What happens if you leave that weed in your garden or lawn? It will grow and multiply.
How do you get rid of it? You’ve got to pull it up.
What if you just remove the top of it? It will come back, only worse.
You’ve got to cut around the root, and you can tell whether you’ve got the whole root, or only half of it, can’t you? And if you don’t want those weeds to come back twice as big and three times as many, you’d better make sure you use the right tools to get to the bottom of it, and you’d better make sure you refill that hole with good soil and new grass seed or a flower or a succulent—something that you WANT to be growing there, and not just bare soil.
I’ve got a word for you today, and at the end of it you’ll feel a weight lifted off of you, but in the beginning we need to confront something that will be uncomfortable, so stick with me.
When I asked God for a fresh word, He replied that something needed to be unearthed. Now, I’m not sure what that is in you, Dear Reader—that’s going to be between you and Holy Spirit, and it will be different for each person. What I do know is that just like the results after that weed and root have been removed and replaced with good soil and healthy plants, God has our future benefit in mind when unearthing those things we’ve hidden below the surface of our lives. He is a gentle gardener, and His loving kindness makes any correction, rebuke, or confrontation like a tender kiss. What does proverbs say?
A spoken reprimand is better than approval that’s never expressed.
The wounds from a lover are worth it; kisses from an enemy do you in.
-Proverbs 27:5-6 (Msg)
Jesus is the lover of your soul, so if He needs to give some loving reminders to you today, I want to invite you to open yourself to Him. Let Him into your garden and allow Him to tend to your soul like only He can and wants to.
I want to talk about what you’re hiding that needs to be unearthed.
Think of who we are on Social Media. You only see the pretty parts, right? The happy times, the smiles and travels and gorgeous sunsets. We don’t post our struggles and sins and vulnerable, tender parts. We don’t show the world the soft fleshy parts of our back because we know that’s just where they’d shove their knife if we did. I’m not necessarily encouraging you to air your dirty laundry on Facebook or even suggesting that you need to be more vulnerable there. The internet is a cruel place, full of bullies. It’s not the place for intimacy. Understandably so.
But why do we treat God with the same kind of attitude? Why do we think we can only show Him the pretty and acceptable parts? If we truly trust Him, we need to learn to bare everything before Him, instead of hiding the parts of our hearts that might be shameful or awkward or scary to us, and we assume to Him.
What happens when we try to hide weeds? They just grow bigger and worse. The same is true of what happens when we try hiding our hearts before God. Listen to this verse:
When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
Psalms 32:3-5 NLT
So, the action step I believe the Lord wants to speak to us is that of making confession a regular part of our prayer life. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not great at this. I’m a valedictorian at hiding my sin from myself, others, and even trying to sweep it under the rug so Jesus won’t notice. I’ve learned to do this from my childhood. My home wasn’t always a happy or peaceful one, and the summer before 4th grade I wanted to move out of my mom’s and into my Dad’s house, but I didn’t know how to communicate my feelings or desires effectively, and I buried my pain and strife so deeply, and I ended up manifesting so much stress that I got a pretty serious case of shingles. (Shingles is a painful, oozing rash, usually brought about by stress activating a dormant virus that affects the nerves and skin.) So, I just want you to know that everything I’m preaching to your soul today, I’m preaching even more to my own soul.
So, let’s talk about what kinds of topics fall under the practice of Confession:
Something hidden from God: resentment against Him or others. Something difficult even for you to admit to yourself. Something you try to ignore or pretend doesn’t exist, but it often festers, growing in the dark like an ugly monster—getting bigger and bigger, forcing you to work harder and harder to try to ignore it.
Sin, unforgiveness, or regret. (Before we go on, let me qualify conviction vs. condemnation. Some people assume more guilt than is true. They have a seared conscience and imagine themselves more harshly judged than they truly are. If a teacher said to the whole class, “Who has put a tack on my chair?” these people would question their own guilt, though it was clearly Bobby, whom they witnessed do so. Their condemnation is not founded, but conjured, based on false guilt. Remember: Condemnation leads to hiding and shame, while Conviction leads to change. I’m probably not talking to you about confessing sin more regularly if you can relate to the kids who watched Bobby put the tack on the teacher’s chair and then feel guilty. You aren’t hiding a sin; you’re hiding behind false shame, but you can confess and be freed of that as well.) Now listen: we all sin daily, and so daily confession of our sin ought to come as easy as giving God our daily gratitude or asking Him our daily requests. How much easier is it if you can recognize a weed from a small sprout, and you spend time every day in your garden pulling out those sprouts? Isn’t that better than ignoring your garden until the weeds are monstrosities that you have to dig huge holes around in order to get to the roots, spreading deeper and wider into the soil, stealing the nutrients and space from the flowers that you WANT to grow? How would your life be different if you learned to recognize, address, and confess your sin daily?
The third thing we can confess, is anything we haven’t yet addressed with Jesus. You can share everything on your mind and heart with Him, even when it feels awkward or scary. Vulnerability with intimacy is the point. Talk to Jesus about absolutely everything. Hold nothing back. Maybe it’s something you want that you’ve never asked Him for because you don’t think you deserve it or don’t know if He’d say yes. Whatever it is, share every part of your heart with Him. That is what He WANTS, and it’s what will benefit you most. Check out my previous post about Heroes and Monsters for a passage about vulnerability and intimacy with Jesus that recently rocked my world.
Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
-Psalm 66:16-20 NLT
God bends His ear to listen to our prayers if and when we are faithful to bring our honest confessions and vulnerability to Him. And though we may expect Him to withdraw His love because of what we confess, the mere act of confession in and of itself, regardless of the horror in the words, turns His attention and affection TOWARD us. Isn’t that just the most beautiful thing you’ve heard all day?
“But if we own up to our sins, God shows that He is faithful and just by forgiving us of our sins and purifying us from the pollution of all the bad things we have done.”
– 1 John 1:9 (VOICE)
Listen, I see a pattern in Scripture: God has a part and we have a part.
My part:vulnerable confession
God’s part in response:
Purify and cleanse me
Listen to my prayers
Forgive and remove all of my guilt
Do you see how God does 98% of the work, but He does ask you to participate, cooperate, and work with Him? That doesn’t mean you’re saved by your own work, but it does mean that you DO have a part when it comes to living out your salvation for life and walking with Jesus closely, intimately, honestly, and truthfully. That’s called a relationship. That’s what our faith is all about.
Prayer: Lord, do your gentle, loving work of unearthing in me. Uncover every part of my heart that I’ve hidden from you, myself, and this world. I give you a welcome invitation to point out the weeds I’ve let grow, be that resentment toward you, sins or mistakes, or even vulnerable intimacy I’ve kept from you out of fear or shame or just not knowing how you would respond. I trust You, help remove my mistrust. I believe You, help my unbelief. Cleanse me, forgive me, change me, renew me, make me into the beautiful new creation you destined me to be, the person who looks more like You, the person who brings you Glory.
Whenever you see a plant or a garden, or your lush, green lawn, let it be a daily reminder to draw near to Jesus in confession, believing in Faith that He WILL respond in loving forgiveness, and that your sin, guilt, shame, awkwardness, barriers to Him will be completely erased and washed away. Weeding is required not just once, but often and regularly. Let God help you make a practice of it, and watch your relationship with Him grow closer and more intimate than it has ever been.
If you’ve been blessed today by visiting my Nest and reading my words, would you do your future self a favor and slip your email into the Subscribe box so that she doesn’t miss any of my posts? I think she’d thank you for it.
I’ve been camped in the Psalms for the past couple of weeks, and I’m so thankful for the many points of wisdom and guidance God is providing as I spend time meditating. What have you been learning from His Word? I’d love to know. Comment below or send me an email.
As I’m reading through the 90’s in Psalms, I’m seeing a pattern of praising God for justice. Now, this is a difficult topic, which blends into the toughest of all faith questions, “why do bad things happen to good people” as well as its cousin, “why do good things happen to bad people,” so I tread lightly here as I offer my thoughts. I’m not a theologian, but I’d love to be one when I grow up.
Before we get into the Psalms, though, you should know something about me: I’m passionate about helping victims, helpless, hopeless, broken, outcasts, and the voiceless. I allow my heart to get broken often (maybe daily?) by circumstances surrounding these people, and I often cry out for God to just do something for them. One example of this is when I went to Haiti on medical mission in March of 2010, and I cried for days about a young man studying to be a pastor who was killed in the earthquake. I can’t believe it’s been a decade since that happened, but I remember it like it was yesterday. My only thought, though it felt irreverent was, “Lord, you let the wrong one die. Why couldn’t you have saved him and let one of the corrupt human traffickers be crushed? You really should have chosen better here.”
And haven’t we all been there?
Right now I’m feeling similar emotions as I watch the CDC tell the very doctors and nurses who are saving the lives of Covid-19 patients that BANDANNAS will have to do as PPE. Nurses are suffering huge waves anxiety, not wanting to bring the disease back to their homes, and EMT’s are dying, even as they fight. Doctors are unable to comfort loved ones with the usual hug when they have to deliver the worst of news, and these precious, priceless soldiers on the front lines of this battle are just getting thrown under the bus. My heart cries out for justice, and I’m uttering the familiar irreverent words: “You’re choosing wrong here, Lord!”
This graphic showed up in my newsfeed recently:
This grief longs to be comforted and replaced with joy. I turn to the only place I know that can do that, and that’s to my Bible.
I’m not going to move in Scripture order here, but I have several verse sets to share that will lead us in a meandering path through my thoughts on this topic of rejoicing in the hope for justice. Won’t you come on this hike of faith and joy with me?
Let’s start with joy. One definition of worship might include praising God in gratitude for what he does or has done or will do, resulting in joy. Indeed for the believer, this is one of the greatest sources of our joy – not just temporary happiness, but lasting joy.
“Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
Let the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he is coming!
He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice,
and the nations with his truth.” – Psalm 96:12-13
One source of this worship-gratitude-joy (the original word for it in Greek is eucharisteo) is a two-fold concept that goes like this: God is sovereign, and He is coming inevitably to bring judgement, truth, and justice. The world often feels, seems, and is verily unfair. The crooked get wealthier, the cruel inherit power, the innocent suffer, the vulnerable get sick, the weak are exploited. Our inner morality cries out in pain and we are starved for justice. Our hearts are broken for the inequality and unfair scales that seem to rule our land.
Our meager efforts seem like a drop in the ocean and the only hope is for a powerful and sovereign God to bring about truth, fairness, judgement on the guilty, vengeance for the victims, and equality for all people.
“This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
He is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.” – Psalm 91:2-3, 6
Is there a solution to this heartache, this longing for fairness and justice?
` “O Lord, what great works you do!
And how deep are your thoughts.
Though the wicked sprout like weeds
and evildoers flourish,
they will be destroyed forever.
Your enemies, Lord, will surely perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the defeat of my wicked opponents.” – Psalm 92:5, 7, 9, 11
One of the great works God does–one we delightfully worship in with eucharisteo–is His actions to destroy evildoers and the wicked forever. It’s a relief that we don’t hold that burden or responsibility. And even if there is not a fair distribution of justice right now, He WILL bring full justice in the end.
“Arise, O Judge of the earth.
Give the proud what they deserve.
How long, O Lord?
How long will the wicked be allowed to gloat?
How long will they speak with arrogance?
How long will these evil people boast?
They crush your people, Lord,
hurting those you claim as your own.
They kill widows and foreigners
and murder orphans.
He punishes the nations—won’t he also punish you?
He knows everything—doesn’t he also know what you are doing?” – Psalm 94:2-6, 10
“Judgment will again be founded on justice,
and those with virtuous hearts will pursue it.” – Psalm 94:15
“Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.
He will judge all peoples fairly.” – Psalm 96:10
And the answer is YES!
Isn’t God’s answer always yes, when we ask according to His word? He IS coming. He is coming to judge the earth and we tremble at the thought, for none of us is perfect. And in addition to the trembling, we rejoice (we have JOY), because our hope will be fulfilled. The demonic forces of evil will be vanquished, once and for all. The traffickers who sell children for sex will be punished severely. Every virus and silent killer and disease will be eradicated. Every corrupt leader who has dealt in self-serving will be made to repay.
The Lord says, “I will rescuethose who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me,I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give themmy salvation.” – Psalm 91:14-16
And these hearts of ours that crave truth and fairness will be satisfied and we rejoice in this hope.
“But the godly will flourish like palm trees
and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.
For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house.
They flourish in the courts of our God.
Even in old age they will still produce fruit;
they will remain vital and green.
They will declare, “The Lord is just!
He is my rock!
There is no evil in him!” – Psalm 92:12-15
The question that begs an answer, then, is this: who are these godly, and am I among them? What is it that separates the godly who rejoice at the coming of the Lord’s justice and the wicked who will be judged?
Throughout the history of God’s people, we see that this division has been marked in two ways. For those who lived before Christ, the measurement was the Law, and whether one had learned and followed it. For those who, like us, live after Christ’s revolution of grace, the measurement is quite different: repentance.
Have I received the gift of repentance, and used it to recognize and turn away from the evil I’ve done?
Have I confessed my evil, mistakes, wrongs, and sins, trading them in for the blood of Christ, which covers me?
Have I surrendered to the life-long cooperative process of becoming more and more righteous (the fancy word here is sanctification)?
Have I allowed God to make me a new, holy person, defined first by Him who made me and last by Him who saved me?
And if you ask yourself those questions and the answer to all of them is YES, then you are among the godly, among the righteous. According to the new agreement of grace (the fancy word here is covenant), you are among those who rejoice and take gratitude-filled joy at the thought of God coming to judge with truth and justice.
You get excited to know that your heart will one day no longer be broken because of inequality and unfairness and oppression of the innocent and disease that takes the good people.
You worship God for many reasons, and one of those being that He will indeed come to earth to punish the evildoers who have not repented, send the wicked away who have refused conviction, and judge those who have caused harm to good people.
You feel relieved because you don’t have to be the judge, jury, or executioner.
You praise the Lord because He alone is the God of justice.
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Want a song for comfort and joy about this very topic? Try this one by Natalie Grant (foot stomping and clapping encouraged).
What are you doing to hold onto joy and hope during this season? How are you reaching for justice? How are you helping those in need of mercy?