Wednesday, October 20

How Bad Will It Have to Get Before We Pray?

To what degree must everything fall apart before we cry out to God to change our circumstances? This came to mind when reading Psalm 80. The Psalmist, Korah, urges God, "Stir up your might and come to save us." Then this in verses 3–7:  
3 Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
4 O Lord God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
In my mind, I picture the squalid conditions of those poor Poles hold up in the ghettos of Warsaw during WW2. I imagine myself, dirty, scared, devastated, having lost home and honor and friends. In wonder over the past, anxious about the present. Hopeless. Any prospect that this will change? Worse, how did we get here?!

If there were a Christian counterpart to the above scene, would we pray? I would cry out then! Wouldn't you? It's too extreme not to. Notice the two verses on either side of 4-6. Verses three and seven say the same thing: "Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!" And how many times did Israel have good reason to so pray? Read the book of Judges and you witness the roller-coaster ride of unbelief. And what can be said of the history of the kings? Wow! Very few good kings of thought more of God than they did of themselves. Squalid spirituality, that's what it was!

QUESTION: Why didn't they cry out then, before everything went south? I'm sure some did. But apparently not enough. How about us today? How bad will conditions have to get in our own hearts, in the church, before we declare a moratorium on amusements and mere forms and bow in abject poverty of spirit to the only One who can save us? Are we so calloused that we cannot feel the difference between a living relationship with Christ and the mere eking out of a ghetto-like spiritual existence? 

There is hope to be sure. Always. But one has to see the poverty, feel the hunger pangs before going to whatever extremes in order to find relief.

Why wait? . . . Really. "Let your face shine, that we may be saved!"

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