Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Psalm 4

Today I reflected on Psalm 4. From what I gather, Israel was going through some kind of famine or otherwise trying time, and they were starting to doubt the Lord's faithfulness and the psalmist's ability to lead. Verses 4–6 imply that some of them were grumbling against Yahweh/the king and were even turning to other gods for prosperity. On the one hand, the psalmist expresses confidence that the Lord will protect his righteous ones, so that he can sleep more peacefully at night than the others can even when their storehouses overflow with grain and their vats with wine. On the other hand, he acknowledges the hard times and cries out to God to deliver him.

Again, a lot of this language is foreign to me because the "tough times" I have seen are nothing compared to the impact of a famine on an agrarian culture. I can't imagine praying to idols to turn around the American economy. But then again, maybe that American economic machine is the "delusion" and the "false god" of our day. Why do we get so worked up when the value of the dollar decreases, when the stock market starts to slide, or when the housing market slumps? Do we doubt God's ability to take care of us? These things seem kind of trivial when I reflect on the poverty of many people outside of the U.S. Yet, I worry about them all the same.

"Father, I still wrestle with the discomfort of my personal prosperity. I feel uneasy about being a part of an economic system that promotes global inequality. Perhaps that is conviction. Perhaps it is false guilt. I can't help that I was born in America. I can't help that there are certain realities to living in America. Yet, Father, I feel that the American system saps my need for you. The times that You have felt most "close" or "real" have been the times of personal tragedy. Am I robbing my spirit by feeding by bank account and belly?

Lord, I don't know the answer to my uneasiness. I do know that I want to be a part of the solution. I pray that You would continue to work in me. That You would convict me of greed, of selfishness, of pride. I pray that You would make me more conscious of the needs of the people around me and of the people around the world. I pray that You would make our nation a more compassionate one, and that You would start with Your church here. Amen."

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