When Everything’s Not Awesome
Sermon by Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
Life is hard, but God is good. You’ve probably heard that saying many times. Of course it’s true, but when we’re deep in anxiety or depression or anger or pain it almost sounds simplistic to the point of being flippant. Yet that is the sentiment of the psalmist in this chapter, and these words can give us comfort if we unpack them a bit. They can also remind us, the church, of our marching orders.
Psalm 94 is an appeal to the Lord, Judge of the Earth, to right the wrongs perpetrated against the weak and powerless by corrupt and wicked leaders. It’s one thing to be the victim of wrongdoing by an ordinary person; it’s another to be victimized by someone who holds power and authority over us. We look to our leaders to guide us, to protect us, and to inspire us, but leaders are human beings just like the rest of us, with the same propensity for greed, selfishness, and arrogance that we all battle within ourselves. When leaders fail at controlling their natural human impulses, their people suffer.
Either by commission or omission, people in power are responsible for all kinds of evil. Instead of caring for the poor and the weak, the wicked mighty ignore them or take away what little they have. Instead of working for justice, corrupt rulers show favoritism to their cronies and oppress those who cannot defend themselves. Unethical leaders can bring down an entire nation in their efforts to game the system to benefit only themselves and their friends. Yes, for people who long for justice, life is hard.
But it is good for us to remember that we serve a God who is more powerful than the most powerful human leader. A God who is just and merciful. A God who hears and sees all, who knows and understands everything. A God who brings relief like cool water to people dying of thirst. A God who will never reject his people. Who disciplines but does not destroy. Who consoles when there is no other consolation. God is, indeed, good.
Those of us who believe in and follow Jesus might experience harsh judgment and ridicule from unbelievers, but we should expect that. We might consider such contempt oppression; however, most of us know very little about real oppression. When we don’t acknowledge that some in our communities are truly exploited, truly persecuted, when we turn a blind eye to their misery, we are accomplices in their oppression. That is not the path Jesus calls us to walk.
Instead, we are to be agents of his mercy and justice. We are to share his grace with the world, building his kingdom a little bit each day. Feeding the hungry. Clothing and caring for the poor. Defending those who cannot defend themselves. Working within the system, or even changing the system when it doesn’t function well. John Wesley, the eighteenth century English cleric and evangelist who founded the Methodist church, wrote: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” Life is hard, but God is good. Our job is to carry that message to the world in both words and deeds.
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship (Children’s Worship and nursery care available). Discovery Hour is on summer break.