Have you ever wondered to yourself: “Why is this happening to me?”
Of course you have, because you're human and you don’t live in a cave – and if you do live in a cave, you are probably thinking “why is this happening to me?” right now.
There are many reasons bad things happen to people, not the least of which is the fact that the world we live in is still drenched in evil and brokenness. But Psalm 85 isn’t about the consequences of someone else's evil. It is a collective recognition of personal wrong doing.
The Israelites had stopped paying attention to God and their work became fruitless. Together, they sang this prayer of repentance and mourning, and asked God to be true to His promises – despite how they had been untrue to Him.
But why would God withhold productivity from the Israelites in the first place? Because the life stories we construct for ourselves apart from God are lame. More importantly, they hurt us and the people around us. Apart from God, our rebellious, sinful stories will always make more and more room for evil to rule.
“No” is as much a part of God saying “I love you” as when he says “Yes.” Keeping our rebellious stories from being fruitful is one of the ways He loves us. He helps us become aware of our brokenness before it gets any worse!
Psalm 85 – Rewritten
I’ve updated the language of Psalm 85 to help us read it in light our own everyday roles and responsibilities. As you read through it, ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of ways you have been fighting to write your own story. Pay attention to words or phrases that the Holy Spirit uses to speak to you and trust that Jesus is already paying attention to you and wants to help you pay attention to Him.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
I AM, you used to smile on your good land:
you restored the wealth of Jacob when Israel came out of Egypt
you forgave the repulsive evil of your people when they worshiped the golden calf
you washed off all their gross rebellion. (Pause)
You pulled back all your outrage;
you chose not to sit in your anger.
Do the same now. Rebuild us again, God of our rescuing,
and put away the displeasure you have towards us.
You have said that you are a God merciful and big-hearted, slow to act out of anger,
and overflowing with immovable Love and Truth,
keeping immovable Love for thousands,
forgiving evil and corruption and rebellion.
(Exodus 20:6, 34:6-7)
Will you stay angry with us forever?
Will you draw out your anger for centuries to come?
Will you not breath new life into us again,
that your people may find joy in you?
Show us your immovable love, I AM,
and give us your redemption.
Oh, let me hear what God the I AM will say,
since he will speak wholeness to his people, his saints;
but may we not turn back to lesser, broken stories.
We know God’s redemption surrounds those who fear him,
we want your glory, God, to saturate our everyday lives!
Immovable Love and Truth meet;
Goodness and Wholeness kiss each other.
Truth gushes up from the very ground we stand on,
and Goodness watches over us from above.
Yes, I AM gives goodness and beauty,
and our everyday responds with flourishing.
Goodness walks out ahead of him,
and clears a path for him to walk.
-- Ben Larzabal