May 12, 2016

Psalm 42:5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

This refrain, which appears again in verse 11 and in 43:5, is very familiar, but I just noticed something in the perhaps more literal Japanese translation. It says, “I will praise the salvation of His face.” That doesn’t click immediately, but going back to some Davidic Psalms (this one is by “the Sons of Korah”) the point comes across that simply being with God is salvation. We forget that sometimes! We are anxious and distressed only to the degree that we fail to be at rest in Him. The world is full of things to upset us, but when we fix our hearts on our unchanging Rock, we have stability that is available no other way. It’s been several years since I heard a presentation by an American psychologist about the great increase in mental illness because of people being unable to handle the rate of change in the world today, and just this week I was talking with a Japanese psychologist who was saying the same thing, though he was saying “stress” rather than “rate of change.” There simply isn’t enough stability in the world today to keep us on an even keel if we don’t have something bigger, more solid, to depend on. Writing that, Jesus’ story of the two builders came to mind. (Matthew 7:24-27) It’s not a question of whether storms will come; they will. The question is rather whether we will have the foundation necessary for us to be able to withstand them. People want to know how to abide in God’s presence, but Jesus said it very clearly: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:7) The whole Upper Room Discourse is filled with references to letting the Word of God abide in us, and being obedient to it. When we “hide His Word in our hearts,” (Psalm 119:11) we experience an intimacy with Him that gives stability even in the most violent of storms.

Recently I have been very disturbed by what presidential politics has been revealing about the spiritual state of America, but this applies there as well. If I will fellowship with God through His Word, I will know that He always has the last answer, and it’s a good one. It may often be different from what my imagination would paint, but it will always be better. There is no possible way I could even keep track of all that is going on even in one city, much less a nation or the whole world. God not only keeps track, He is sovereign. He allows some pretty horrible things simply because of His choice to give us free will, but that doesn’t mean He’s abdicated His throne. Over 20 years ago I was lying in bed thinking, “There are so many things I wish were different,” when God spoke up and said, “How do you think I feel?” I was totally blown out of the water! I need to remember that evil is never the last answer, and I should rest, relax, and rejoice in my Lord and my God.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me not forget it! You have had to point it out to me so many times over the years, because I am so prone to focus on things other than You. Thank You for the message You spoke through me on that very subject just this last Sunday. Help me live out the truth You speak through me, so that all of Your purposes for me may be fulfilled, on Your schedule and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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