First the terrorist bombing at the finish line of the world-famous Boston Marathon. Thankfully the two men who perpetrated these attacks have been caught. But in the wake of this assault they have left death, destruction and devastation. Families grieve the loss of loved ones. People are suffering. The aftermath will be felt for years to come. For some the rest of their lives. Hurt. Heartache. Anguish.
Then there was the tragic explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas. At this point 13 are confirmed dead and over 200 injured. The devastation to homes, property and lives is almost beyond belief. Mayor Tommy Muska said, “It was like a nuclear bomb went off.”
In the midst of all this suffering we learn that a warped and deluded Mississippi man was arrested for sending poisonous ricin-laced letters to President Obama, a United States Senator and another official.
These are just the stories that are in our national consciousness. Add to this local problems. Crime. And murder. Plus personal misfortune of many that will never make the local news, much less the national news.
It reminds us that life is sometimes difficult. Tough. Challenging. Evil does exist. Tragic accidents happen. Innocent people are not immune to random acts of violence or exempt from the hazards of life that just happen.
In times of physical, mental or emotional distress I have found solace in the Old Testament book of Psalms. They offer insight. Furnish comfort. Give direction. Provide hope. This morning I am reading over Psalms 36-40 and am struck by several reoccurring themes that seem particularly relevant right now.
(1) There are evil people in the world. There always have been. Our day is no different. The wicked people have no fear of God.” They devise evil in their hearts. They seek the harm of good people. But ultimately, God promises, the “wicked will be cut off.” They will wither. Be cut down. Receive judgment.
(2) I need to focus on the holiness of God. Not the sinfulness of wicked people. God is good. Merciful. Faithful. Righteous. Just. Loving.
(3) I need to “commit (my) way to the Lord.” When I experience emotional, physical or spiritual trouble on earth, the Psalmist encourages me to “rest in the Lord.” “Wait on the Lord,” “Keep his way.” Don’t allow the evil of others, or the natural pitfalls of life to turn you away from God.
(4) God delights in his people. He will not forsake me. He will hear my cry. He will help me. He will uphold me. He will deliver me.
These Psalms remind me that trouble is the common lot of mankind. It always has been. Ever since the first sin. Our world is fallen. Depraved. Sinful.
Yet, in the midst of the distress that disquiets my soul, there is a refuge. He is God. And one day He will righteously judge all people and avenge the blood of the innocent. Until then. Stay strong. Be Faithful. Keep focused.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman