Read Psalm 79
Focus on verse 1-4
What does it mean when calamity befalls us? The first thought that crosses my mind is typically something along the lines of “what have I done to deserve this?” While it may seem at times that things happen at random, I have come to believe that what we might call accidents always have a purpose in the grand scheme of history.
In recent news headlines I read of a thirty two year old woman out for a walk with her father on a pier who was randomly shot dead by a stranger. It was later discovered that this man had a lengthy criminal record, was in the country illegally, and because he had managed to slip through some cracks in the legal system had been released instead of being deported. I’m quite certain that to this woman’s family this is a calamity! The “why” questions will be lingering possibly for the rest of their lives.
The psalmist seems to asking similar questions. He is recounting the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. He grieves the death and enslavement of his people. His question is not surprising… “How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?” Will the pain and sorrow ever come to an end? When will God come to our aid and deliver us from this oppression? More importantly, when will God demonstrate to those who are taunting Him that He is God?
Interestingly, none of these questions are answered in the psalm, yet he ends with a resolve that “we, your people, the sheep of your pasture will give thanks to you forever.” I am reminded of the words of 1 Thess 5:18 “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I am thinking that would include giving thanks even for the times when calamity befalls us. Strangely, in my experience when God has given me the grace to do this, it actually changes my perception of the situation from hopelessness to victory.
Oh victory! In Jesus, my Savior for ever,
He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood,
He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory, beneath His cleansing blood.