Daily Devotions

in Bible

A Determined Faith

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"Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" (Psalm 79:10)

"Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever." (Psalm 79:13)

 

The Interpreter's Bible Commentary declares, "Psalm 79 is one of several communal laments or prayers for help." The decisive issue is the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the people's exile. The Interpreter's Bible continues, "The exile necessitated more generally a rethinking of the role of suffering in the life of the faithful."

Psalm 79 echoes the people's deepest doubts and fears. God does not seem to be present in the life of the people. All the other gods in their world seem to take better care of their people than the God of Israel. Yet, this doubt and fear is not the end of a tragic story.

The people of faith come to realize that they are not given perfect lives, free from adversity. The great theologian Walter Brueggemann concludes: "Biblical faith is not romantic. It reckons with evil, and it knows that evil strikes at all that is crucial and most precious. Nevertheless it does affirm." Suffering does not mean we are sinful, or that god is absent or angry. In fact, it often means we are doing such good that evil is upset.

In working on devotions through the Psalms, I am continually struck by the level of doubt, fear, and lament. The faithful, including God's beloved David, are often placed in horrible circumstances, with faith as their only hope. Yet, time-and-again the people choose trust over doubt, not letting the struggle destroy their faith.

Let your prayer today include honestly naming your worries, doubts and fears to God. Then, pray out loud, stating that you will offer God your trust and commitment. Do not fear God's wrath for sharing your honest feelings and emotions. God knows worry, doubts and fears. Simply read the last words of Jesus on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus' suffering and death on the cross became a symbol of power and grace. After that,  As The New Interpreter's Bible states, the cross is "the ultimate answer to the question, "Where is God?" God is with us in our doubt, guiding us to the resurrection. God will take our deepest struggles and bring salvation.

Remembering our Teachers

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"He established a decree in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children; that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and rise up and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments." (Ps. 78:5-7)

 

Psalm 78 is not historical in the way we define history in the contemporary sense. Psalm 78 retells history for the purpose of teaching which leads to hope and obedience in the hearers. The psalmist wasn't just writing for the faithful of that time, but for future generations as well.

 

The teaching in Psalm 78 has the goal of guiding the faithful to offering their whole lives to God. Learning the decrees, laws, and stories of our spiritual ancestors, through Scripture, opens us to the spiritual power of the divine. We have an obligation to bring God's blessings to others, so they too can experience the joyous steadfast love of God.

 

Today, prayerfully reflect on those individuals who were your formal and informal teachers. How did they positively influence your development as a person and a Christian? Are there ways in which you are, or can be, a teacher of the faith? Perhaps you are feeling called to teach Church School on Wednesday or Sunday. Perhaps you are a parent, and are searching for new and ever more meaningful ways of guiding your child(ren) in the faith. Offer God your prayers for wisdom and commitment. Then, be open to God leading you in opportunities to offer your wisdom to others.

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