Many people see a modern rise of these same things in western “Christian” countries. The redefining of personhood, marriage, and life itself according to purely secular philosophy makes no sense to those who hold the conviction that staying rooted in our Christian roots will be much better for our respective countries. Ironically, the rise of popular “spirituality” in these same countries is on the increase. Secularism and polytheism have come all over again. Why? People choose not to trust or believe in God in the way in which he has revealed himself. They choose instead to be their own sovereign lords. Given enough people acting together in secular spirituality, movements start and gain momentum to pull entire nations away from faithfulness to God.
As the psalmist reflects over the needs of the nation, he sees that for a time God withdrew His benevolence, and soon enough the people realized the cost. They began again to act in faithfulness to God’s word and his leadership established in the prophets and priesthood. Yet, as a nation, they began a season of waiting for God to respond and save. They were not instantly restored and all made well. How easy that would have been for God to do! How wonderful that would have been for the people! (Or so they would have thought.) Would they truly have realized the depth of their sin and the depth of God’s love and grace to restore them had God done so swiftly? Rather, in a time of waiting, they became more deeply aware of their own brokenness and of the specific ways in which they needed God to “save” them. Maybe learning this would help them to not repeat their errors in the future?
Waiting can be beneficial. I write that fully knowing I usually don’t enjoy the process when it lasts for a period of time longer than my own tolerance prefers. But in waiting we often realize more deeply things about ourselves and others which we would have skimmed over had we not been placed in the circumstance of waiting for some event to occur– waiting “to be saved.” In learning about our own need and brokenness, we can better respond to God’s guidance when he begins to lead us out of those things that we sincerely want to no longer experience.
Yesterday I spoke with a fellow priest who told me his story of learning to say, “Thank you,” to God for everything. Literally, everything– his lousy attitude, his lazy tendency, his disappointment or anger… everything was given thanks and not just the good things. He told me at at first it seemed ridiculous and anti-intellectual. He felt he was ignoring reality. But what happened? He began to see his thoughts and experiences differently. If he could so give over his disappointment to God in thanks, or if he could give thanks for his dumb response to a challenge, just for examples, he began to see more clearly the nuances of his own motives and thoughts. He began to see from a different perspective why he said, did, or did not say or do those things for which he gave thanks. Giving thanks even for his brokenness changed him. He became… more Christlike in his perspective about life as he learned to see himself and others differently.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 If we belong to Jesus, if we are “in” Christ, we are to be people of thanks. Just maybe we will see aspects of life from God’s perspective?
I wonder what you’re waiting for? Is there something about which you want “to be saved” by God and you’re just waiting for the “thing” to happen? While you wait, give thanks. Pay attention to the change that happens in you. Ask him to help you see differently while you wait for him to…
“Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”