Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
In Psalm 60, the warrior-poet experienced desperate times. He says,
Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us
and no longer go out with our armies?
Give us aid against the enemy,
for human help is worthless.
The poet was accustomed to God giving his army victory, but unexpectedly his army started losing. This surprised and shocked the poet. He was offended that God stopped helping his army. So he prayed: “God, do things the old way! You are supposed to make our army winners. Losing is no fun. Start helping us again.”
Has God ever caught you by surprise like that? Perhaps he’s always given you good health, and suddenly the doctor delivers a scary diagnosis. Or unexpectedly, your comfortable finances are exploded by unemployment and a pile of bills? Or your children who have done well in the past are now throwing your life into chaos.
Today, the coronavirus pandemic has created desperate times for entire nations. A third of the planet is on coronavirus lockdown, millions are unemployed, health systems are overwhelmed, business are at risk, and governments are mortgaging the future to flatten the curve. Do you, like the poet, ask God what this is all about? Do you say to him, “Why don’t you look after us better?” Do you wonder if maybe he is judging the sins of civilization?
Author N. T. Wright titled a recent article Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To. He says. “Rationalists . . . want explanations; Romantics . . . want a sigh of relief. But perhaps what we need more than either is to recover the biblical tradition of lament. Lament is what happens when people ask, ‘Why?’ and don’t get an answer.” (N.T. Wright article at Time.Com: Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To (Time.com, 29 Mar 2020). https://time.com/5808495/coronavirus-christianity/)
Let’s use Psalm 60 to pray a lament over the pandemic.
You have shaken the land and torn it open;
mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
You have shown your people desperate times;
you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner
to be unfurled against the bow.
Save us and help us with your right hand,
so that those you love may be delivered (vv. 2-5).
O God, look at our society as it staggers under the pandemic. Look at the charts where the death toll goes steeply up and the stock market steeply down. Look at the body bags coming out of New York hospitals straight into refrigerator trucks. Look at us keeping social distance, being isolated, tempted to fear and anxiety. Lord, our whole world groans. What can we do but cry out to you?
In Psalm 60 you proclaim your victory over the poet’s enemies. You say:
Moab is my washbasin,
over Edom I toss out my sandal
over Philistia I shout in triumph (v. 8).
O God, we wait in hope for you to bring healing to our broken world. .
Who but you will bring us to a time of health?
Who but you will lead us through the valley?
Give us aid against our enemy
for human help is worthless (vv. 9,11, paraphrased).
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.