God is For Us - A Message of Hope in Days of Darkness
Out of the depth of my anguish and pain I prayed,
and God, you helped me as a father. You came to my rescue and broke open the way into a beautiful and broad place.
Now I know, LORD, that you are for me,
and I will never fear what man can do to me.
For you stand beside me as a my hero who rescues me. I have seen with my own eyes the defeat of my enemies. I have triumphed over them all.
(Ps. 118:5-7 Passion Translation)
“We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but showing them a light so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”
(Madeline L’Engle, Walking on Water)
Did you hear that a worship song went viral back in April? People from various churches all over the UK, people from different cities and Christian denominations (or non-denominations) sang together though technically they were apart during the midst of the COVID lockdown. "The Blessing" is a song inspired by the blessing recorded in Numbers 6:24-26 known as Aaronic blessing:
The LORD bless you and keep you, the LORD
make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you,
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.
Bible scholar, Lois Tverberg explains a fascinating fact about this blessing:
"The biblical text emphasizes that these words of blessing had no human author. They were not penned by an ancient psalmist or by a prophet. God himself is their originator, and he alone can fulfill them. When God instructed priests to speak them over Israel, he was making it clear that they were acting as mouthpieces, human voices to proclaim his loving intentions. God is the one who activates these words in the lives of listeners, to do for them what they cannot do for themselves." Lois Tverberg
The UK pastor who helped organize the video compilation was interviewed after the video went viral. On reflecting on why the video resonated with so many, the pastor considered that many people have come to think of the message of the church to be a message of judgment, declaring to the world what God is against. In a time of global crisis and uncertainty, the message that God is for the people of the world is a message of hope many are longing to hear.
As I meditated on the verses above from Psalm 118, I was reminded how God has always been for those who will turn to him for help:
“Now I know, LORD, that you are for me,
and I will never fear what man can do to me." (Ps. 118:6)
God is for us. When we don’t believe this about God, we feel we must defend ourselves. Despair sits on the edge of emotions because of the perception that there is no one to help us.
The psalmist writes of an opposite experience. He cried out and the Lord broke open a way into a beautiful and broad place.” He experienced the love of a father. In God, he found "the broad place."
The "broad place" is a place of comfort and reassurance. We know the "broad place" in our bodies when we look at the expanse of the ocean or stand on the peak of a mountain looking miles into the distance. We can breathe. We acknowledge God's power is great in his creation. All of the troubles of the world disappear and a deep knowing comes into our awareness. We are not alone. There is help. The Lord is near.
This Good News is the message we need to take to the world---that God is for us, ready to help us. He alone can rescue.
How did it come to be that so many believe God is against people? Has the church forgotten its mission? Have we forgotten the truth that God so loved the world? Have we failed to tell of the One is for us, who has always been for us---from every tribe, language, people, and nation?
"Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him." (Is. 30:18)
Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we have access to the realities of the Kingdom of God. When we live in the Kingdom, we are lifted above the troubles of the world. A perspective on eternal realities comes into focus. We enter the broad place. We are rescued.
Today, I will take the hand of God who is beside me. He always leads in the “paths of righteousness.” He is with me and for me. His way is a way of love. Even the hard parts of the journey are for my good and his glory. I’ve been this way before. I know my God as the God who rescues. I will trust Him. Will you?
Lord, Thank you for being for us! Help me take the message of hope to the world. Give me a heart to sing a blessing over my country, my neighbors---even the whole world. Let it be that many would receive the message of hope and find Jesus to be the rescuer, the One who redeems them and gives them life. May you lead them to the beautiful and broad place that is your Eternal Kingdom. Amen