Praying through the Psalms

Praying through the Psalms

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

You are my King and my God,
    who decrees[c] victories for Jacob.
Through you we push back our enemies;
    through your name we trample our foes.
I put no trust in my bow,
    my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
    you put our adversaries to shame.
In God we make our boast all day long,
    and we will praise your name forever.[d]
But now you have rejected and humbled us;
    you no longer go out with our armies.
10 You made us retreat before the enemy,
    and our adversaries have plundered us.
11 You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
    and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your people for a pittance,
    gaining nothing from their sale.

This is the perennial question that is often asked by people of all religions today.  It is essentially the same question the psalmist is asking on behalf on his people.  It is clear that their trust is in God, but they are being defeated by their adversaries, and have become a source of derision for their neighbors. They wonder how God could allow this to happen to them, His chosen people.

Then, they recount the victories of their forefathers through the tradition that has been passed down to them.  They remember Joshua fighting the "Battle of Jericho", and the defeat of Israel's enemies in the Promised Land. But now things are not looking so good.

Unlike other penitential psalms, there is no sense of a confession of sin. On the contrary, he says, "If we had worshipped another god, you surely would have known it."  Importantly he says, "For your sake we faced death all day long, and were like sheep ready to be slaughtered."  Paul quotes Psalm 44 in Romans 8:36.  The psalm ends with a cry for God to remember them and save them, because of his "unfailing" and "steadfast" love as promised to them through the covenant made with Abraham.

Notice that although there are no easy answers to what is happening to the people of God, they call out to God and still trust that he will be faithful to him.  They have their history of God's faithfulness and though they are in a terrible trial,  they continue to reach out to and trust in him.  
Have you ever felt this way?  How can you look back to God's faithfulness as you trust in Him in the present?  Remember being a Christian isn't always easy, but God will be faithful to you in the end.  

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