Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Matthew 9:1-8; Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 22:1-11; Genesis 47
The first line of Psalm 22 was spoken by Jesus as he hung dying on the Cross (Matthew 27:46). We will explore the prophetic side of this psalm tomorrow. Here we will focus on the psalm as a prayer in the midst of difficult circumstances. The psalmist, traditionally held to be David, begins by declaring his deepest fear: God has forsaken him. We can picture Jesus feeling that way as he hangs in excruciating pain, surrounded by men and women mocking him. As we struggle in pain, or endure ridicule, we may feel totally alone and think that God has forsaken us. This psalm permits us to pray out loud in our panic. ‘Why have you given up on me, God? Why are you not even listening to my prayer? Where have you gone, my God?’
But then the psalmist remembers who God is. Our God is still the king, in control of his kingdom. He gains courage from God’s past involvement with his people. He remembered times, like when the famine struck in Genesis 47, that the people would have wondered where God had gone. Yet in the background, God was taking care of things through Joseph. He had a plan, even while the crops failed and the food ran out. God took care of his people as they suffered, not by removing everything bad. Even when we can’t see God’s hand, we are to trust that he holds us in his palm.
Thinking of his ancestors may have left David comparing his faith to theirs. In the midst of their struggles, afflictions and pain, they trusted and were rescued. By comparison, David is having a hard time believing God even hears him. They were men of faith; he is but a worm. Unable to defend itself, the worm slithers along waiting to be squashed. We can struggle to see any value in our lives when it feels like God is gone. We start believing those around us who question why we bother. We are just specks in a silent universe. No one listens. No one cares.
But that draws David back to his own life. Somehow he made it safely out of his mother’s womb. Unable to do anything, his mother fed him. The baby on his mother’s breast, just like the baby in the womb, is totally dependent. There is nothing he can do for himself. That total dependence on his mother to protect and nurture him in and out of the womb is a picture of how God is there for us (see Psalm 139). God was there when we were in the womb and when we left the womb. He continues to be there when trouble is near and all we see is pain and rejection. We should express our doubts about this in prayer, but also trust that he has not given up on us.