Daily Devotion - Monday, March 7, 2016
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on God. But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread. - Psalm 53:1, 4-5
One of the many great things about the psalms in the Bible is how honest and raw they can be. Along with all of the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God, there are also just as many psalms filled with angst, anger, lament and sorrow. Some of them (like the lectionary Psalm for today) seem downright pessimistic.
The world, according to the psalmist, who wrote Psalm 53, is filled with people who are no good--fools who deny the existence of God, corrupt people who "never call on God." I have to admit, there's not a lot of positivity there.
It feels like the world is full of evildoers, doesn't it? The words of the psalmist in Psalm 53 don't sound that over-the-top when you lift them up next to what is happening all around us, all of the time. It's the last line of today's reading that really hits me, though: "But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread."
When I fall into despair, and begin to descend into the rabbit hole of angst and melancholy over the state of everything, I lose my sense of God's presence and sovereignty. I lose my ability to see all of the ways that God is at work in the world, resurrecting what was dead, creating new things and bringing God's kingdom to earth.
When I spend my time wringing my hands over all of the horrible news in the world... When I find myself constantly decrying the hopelessness of the human condition... When I am filled with anger over all of the people who "just don't get it..." When I am overwhelmed with dread... What am I really saying?
If I am being brutally honest, what I am saying through my worry and my dread is this: "There is no God." And if I am being even more brutally honest, if I am denying God's existence through my despair, then I would have to be numbered among the fools of this world, the corrupt, the vile and evildoers that I decry and fear.
The words of the psalmist act as an indictment of my lack of faith in God's grace and goodness. But rather than just leave me feeling chastened, they embolden me to trust God more fully, and to train my eyes on the ways that God's kingdom is springing up all around me. I don't have to be overwhelmed with dread because there really isn't anything to dread. God is still in charge, and Evil doesn't get to win.
May you be filled with an overwhelming sense of God's presence today and every day, and may your knowledge of God's presence give you the courage to trust him with all of your worries and fears. May you find yourself numbered among those who choose to defiantly believe that God is good all the time--all the time God is good. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.