weekly encouragement - 3 June 2020
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR DUNDONALD UNDER LOCKDOWN
PSALM 131 – ‘PUT YOUR HOPE IN THE LORD – LIKE A CONTENTED CHILD WITH ITS MOTHER’
Our world seems increasingly chaotic and alarming doesn’t it?
The global Covid19 pandemic which has killed 40,000 people in the UK and kept us hiding in lockdown seems to finally be relenting. But then we began preparing ourselves for an economic crisis that will apparently make the Great Depression seem like a picnic. And now with the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA, exposing racism and systemic prejudice in criminal justice systems on both sides of the pond, there is growing violence and protest on the streets of America and on social media channels here in London. These worrying developments have exposed the weakness of human power and the folly of human pride: our science couldn’t control the Virus, our wealth couldn’t protect us from financial loss and our liberal education couldn’t eradicate the hatred in human hearts. In truth, it is only the good news about Jesus Christ, who died for our sins (to exhaust the wrath we deserve) and rose again for our justification (to qualify us for heaven) – who can rescue us from our sin and from the sickness, poverty and injustice of our world, into his glorious heavenly kingdom of holiness, health and happiness. Never has it been more obvious that our world, our city and our community needs Jesus.
I have written at length about a Christian response to the shameful murder of George Floyd and the issues it raises in my article posted yesterday on the Dundonald and Co-Mission websites [HERE].
But now, having listened for months to our angry press condemning the government at every turn, having dipped into the angry world of enraged bloggers and tweeters, having heard a little of the anger expressed on all sides of every debate about race, don’t you sometimes want to escape from all the alarming chaos and curl up into a little ball like a hedgehog and go into hibernation? Or as this precious diamond of just three verses, Psalm 131, puts it, to find the contentment of a small child with its mother?
Faith in Christ is not only about zealous proclamation and public works of righteousness; it is also about finding our safety and contentment in the loving arms of our heavenly Father. Indeed in the gospels we read of Jesus welcoming little children to himself, saying, ’Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ (Matthew 19; Mark 10; Luke 18). He was not saying that we must be childishly simplistic and naïve; he was saying we must come to Jesus with the kind of unrestrained trust that children show, before they become cynical and proud. This psalm is particularly comforting when we remember its twin title: ‘A psalm of ascents’ mean this psalm is ideal as a prayer or song to encourage those who, like pilgrims struggling along the arduous journey up the mountain road to Jerusalem, are finding the Christian life wearying; and its other title, ‘A Psalm of David’ reminds us that this call to rest in God like a child in its other’s arms, comes from the great warrior King David himself. This psalm is not only for the weak and vulnerable among us, but for strong leaders too. Indeed, as with all the psalms of King David, this prayer points forward to the faith of Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who regularly took refuge in prayer and found contentment amidst turmoil, in the love of his Father.
It is this kind of trusting contentment in God to which Psalm 131 calls us, like a mother calling her child to her arms. As before, I have interweaved each line of the psalm with a line of explanation, and fashioned it as a prayer for us to pray on our own, with our friends on zoom, or with the family around the kitchen table.
“Almighty God, our loving heavenly father,
‘A song of ascents. Of David…
Thank you for this psalm which comforts weary pilgrims, and calls us to the child-like faith of Jesus;
1 My heart is not proud, LORD my eyes are not haughty…
We have no cause to be proud or to look down on others, for we are so often weak and confused;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me…’
The huge issues raised by this global pandemic, economic crisis and racial injustice are beyond me;
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother…
We calm our fearful hearts and quiet our anguished minds as your little children taking refuge in your love;
Like a weaned child I am content…
We are content to leave what we cannot understand or change in your hands and trust you;
3 Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.
We place our hopes for the future, not in governments, banks or movements, but in your gospel plan to bring us home to yourself, to your world free of sickness, sorrow and injustice, to enjoy your glorify forever;
In the name of Christ, in whom we have been adopted as your beloved children,