Psalm 89:1-2,5-8, 15-18
Peter Kendrick, professor of theology and culuture
New Orleans Seminary, North Georgia Hub
Toby Mac said it well, “Some days, life feels perfect. Other days it just ain’t workin.”
My Dad was a little less refined. He once said to me, “Some days are just crappy and other days are even crappier.” If that wasn’t enough, Dad also said, “In case you’ve been wondering about the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the headlights of the train that’s about to run over you.”
Believers have “ain’t workin” days and more often than not they have some really “crappy days!” People fail us, spouses disappoint, lifelong friendships disintegrate, health fails, cancer happens, the company you’ve planned to retire with lays you off, children you’ve spent a lifetime sacrificing for have become estranged and strangers, your 401K is destroyed, the perfect marriage ended in divorce, or you’ve outlived your children. All of your dreams and hopes are destroyed. You’re tired of the disappointments, anger, and hopelessness. You’re wondering if God even cares.
Ethan, the Ezrahite, was having one of those “even crappier” days. He had waited his lifetime to see the restoration of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:5-16). Instead there was only the silence of God and continual suffering of the people. Ethan is left wondering, “Why, God?” He felt that God had abandoned them.
Now he is old, depressed and even disappointed in God. He wants the pain in his life to stop. Ethan cries out, “How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? Remember how fleeting is my life … Remember, Lord how your servant has been mocked, how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the nations’ (89:46-50).
Disappointments in life are difficult. Imagine being disappointed with God. What can we learn from Ethan?
The place of faith and praise
God’s faithfulness is a cause for praise.
God is the faithful one, worthy of our praise. One of the first things Ethan does is acknowledge his disappointment in God’s timing and realize he cannot change anything. Ethan then lets go of his “expectations” and opens his heart to the nature of God: the faithful promise keeper.
I don’t know how many promises there are in the Bible (somebody once said he counted 8,000 promises God made to man) but I do know God has never broken a single one. In his darkest hour, Ethan remembers and sings of God’s “great love” and His “faithfulness.” These two words are covenant words reminding Ethan that God is loyal to those He loves and He has never broken a promise – not to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Moses, or Jacob.
Disappointed with how life is happening? Remember God has not forgotten you. In His time and in His way, God will fulfill every promise. God has already kept His greatest promise, by sending Jesus to die on our behalf so we can have eternal life in Him (John 3:16). If God fulfilled this costly promise out of love for us, we can be confident that He will keep every promise and we can praise Him for His “great love” and “faithfulness.”
Nothing to compare
God’s faithfulness is incomparable and celebrated in heaven. There is no other like Him. So incomparable was the faithfulness of God that the whole of heaven and the heavenly servants of God joined in praising Him (89:5-8).
Faithfulness is in God’s very name, “Yahweh: I AM WHO I AM” (Ex 3:14). God took the present tense verb form of “to be” and used it for His name. It expresses God’s eternality and His nature – the God who never changes. The writer of Hebrews said it this way, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb. 13:8; see also Mal. 3:6; Job 23:13; James 1:170).
Faithfulness is God’s trait. The writer of Deuteronomy says, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments” (7:9).
Benefits of God’s faithfulness
God’s faithfulness is experienced by His followers.
Because God is faithful we enjoy the benefits of His righteous strength and protection. Here are some of the benefits we enjoy because of His faithfulness.
Because He is faithful, the assurance of our salvation is not by our own effort or power but, as Peter said, we are “kept by the power of God” (1 Pt. 1:3-15; see also John 6:37-39). Because He is faithful, I can conquer every temptation in my life (1 Cor. 10:13). Because He is faithful, I can depend upon Him to keep His promise even if I don’t (2 Tim. 2:14). Because He is faithful, He will strengthen us and protect us from the “evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3).
Because God is faithful, Ethan would have rejoiced to see Yom Ha’atzmaut (“independence day”) – the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948 and the fulfillment of God’s promise when, after some 2000 years of exile, the Jews returned home.
The character Fantine in Les Miserables is left alone, unemployed and destitute. Sitting in the pit of depression, she sings her sad song, “I Dreamed a Dream.”
In the second verse, she sings, “I dreamed a dream in time gone by when hope was high and life worth living.” She ends her lament with the words, “I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living. So different now from what it seemed. Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.”
Sometimes life “just ain’t workin.” But no matter what happens in life, believers can hold onto this absolute truth: God is the faithful promise keeper. Trust Him!