TODAY’S READING: Psalm 73, 77–78
Israel had been promised through Abraham that they would be blessed to be a blessing. As a royal priesthood, they were to both intercede and to rule under God’s smiling sovereignty, and in their prosperity all the nations of the world were to see how beneficial it was to live as sons and daughters of Jehovah and were to come running to join in the blessing. This was the plan, but along the way it did not seem to be working. Holiness and consecration, and justice and integrity often led to poverty and being taken advantage of. Conversely, wickedness and corruption seemed to reward the evil. The sadness of cleansing their hearts and living in innocence seemed to be in vain (Psalm 73:12). God seems to not bless us but strangely bless the ones who disobey and scorn Him. The reality of life as we know it is too unfair and too painful to think about until we go to the sanctuary of God, for there we see their end (v. 17).
Where we get in trouble is when we fixate on one day or too short a period of time. The God of missions is the God of history. God’s purposes move inexorably forward, despite the appearances of one day, the setbacks of one year, or the losses of a century. Ever onward, God works for His own glory among all peoples of the earth, and sometimes the sum span of one person’s 70 years coincides with a setback that is 100 years long. If our lives are all we have to judge God’s mission by, many of us would not have much about which to shout. But when we lift our eyes off ourselves and go into the presence of the God who is outside of time, when we open our Bibles and look back to Abraham and forward to the trumpet sounding, when we fill our hearts through reading the testimonies of history and our ears with the triumphs of God’s team around the world, then we understand. God is indeed winning—and there is no contest. My little heart and flesh in my little corner of the battle may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (v. 26) and He is resoundingly winning the nations to Himself. It is good for me to draw near to God, to trust the Lord God, that I may declare His works and His wins (v. 28).
Psalm 77 frames the mercy of God in missionary boundaries. Have His promises failed (v. 8)? Has God failed to keep His word to bless all peoples of earth by blessing His own holy people? When all seems bleak as if God has forgotten us, we handle the disappointments of life by remembering Him. We look at the bigger picture. “Surely I will remember your wonders of old…and talk of Your deeds…. You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples” (vv. 11–15). If you feel forgotten, start remembering. Remember what God has done through history among the nations.
Psalm 78 reminds us that we must be active and intentional in teaching our children the forgotten things. We must constantly bring before our children the marvelous things God has done among the nations (v. 12). We must soberly warn our children that to not believe His salvation for His people (for all peoples) is to incur His wrath (vv. 21–22). We must extol the God who will be glorified among all peoples whether by life or death (vv. 43–44), so that our children grow up knowing in Whom wrath and mercy meet, and why, and that when we walk in the fear of the Lord, we need not fear anyone or anything else (v. 53). We must tell the stories of God forsaking His people when His people forsake His character and His commissions (vv. 60–62). We must impart to our children the wonder of being chosen, of being plucked from their sheepfolds to be royal priests for God in all the earth (v. 70). In joy let us raise our children to know how to run to the Father’s embrace, kneel in the King’s throne room, and run with the Savior’s gospel to all the peoples of earth—or swim with it to the Turks in Cyprus.
Parents, let us raise our children to know that life is not fair, blessings have responsibilities, and difficulties build missionary muscles. Let us bring up a generation with both spiritual and emotional grit, a generation exhorted and equipped from their childhood to storm the gates of hell for their Father’s glory. Let us not foolishly try to protect our spiritual sons and daughters from all difficulty or danger; rather, let’s model how to overcome it for the sake of Jesus and all the peoples of earth.