I found myself talking with a couple of ladies today in Wicklow Town about the challenges we face here in Ireland. Challenges, that I might add, are the growing reality of many in our world. We can read Story after story of people who find themselves facing overwhelming obstacles. Marriages falling apart, jobs lost, and individuals trying to meet financial obligations beyond their ability. I mean what do you do if mortgage payment is $1500 a month but your income is less than $1000? I'm no math genius, but not even someone with a PhD in mathematics can make that work.
Yet all joking aside, this is serious. There are many who today find themselves living right there; between a rock and that hard place. It reminds me of something I read in Psalm 44, that comes from someone who I think might understand some of the challenges we face. Just listen... and as you do, remember this person to talking to God...
"....you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies.
You made us retreat before the enemy, and our adversaries have plundered us.
You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have scattered us among the nations.
You sold your people for a pittance, gaining nothing from their sale.
You have made us a reproach to our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations; the peoples shake their heads at us.
I live in disgrace all day long, and my face is covered with shame
at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me, because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.
All this came upon us, though we had not forgotten you; we had not been false to your covenant.
Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path.
But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals; you covered us over with deep darkness.
If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?
Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?
We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love."
Did you notice the honesty? Did you notice the pain? This Psalm has no happy ending. Instead it ends with the Psalmist waiting, waiting on God.
I wonder if sometimes we call on people to put on a happy face, instead of inviting them to embrace their pain and share it with God, who our Psalmist reminds us is, "of unfailing love". Guess what, our Psalmist knew something we need to remember. God can handle our struggles, our pain, our doubts, yes even our questions. You see the HOPE of us all is found in the very character of the God we serve, a God who is faithful. I wish I knew how... I can tell you I have longed for the answers in my own life, more times than I can recall. Yet the reality is... I place my trust in HIS unfailing love.
I want to share that God with my neighbours, with those I see on the streets of Wicklow. How about you?