God is waiting to be noticed
- We have heard with our ears, O God, our forebears have told us,
all that you did in their days, in time of old;
- How with your hand you drove out nations and planted us in,
and broke the power of peoples and set us free.
- For not by their own sword did our ancestors take the land
nor did their own arm save them,
- But your right hand, your arm, and the light of your countenance,
because you were gracious to them.
- You are my King and my God,
who commanded salvation for Jacob.
- Through you we drove back our adversaries;
through your name we trod down our foes.
- For I did not trust in my bow;
it was not my own sword that saved me;
- It was you that saved us from our enemies
and put our adversaries to shame.
- We gloried in God all the day long,
and were ever praising your name.
- But now you have rejected us and brought us to shame
and go not out with our armies.
- You have made us turn our backs on our enemies,
and our enemies have despoiled us.
- You have made us like sheep to be slaughtered,
and have scattered us among the nations.
- You have sold your people for a pittance
and made no profit on their sale.
- You have made us the taunt of our neighbours,
the scorn and derision of those that are round about us.
- You have made us a byword among the nations;
among the peoples they wag their heads.
- My confusion is daily before me,
and shame has covered my face,
- At the taunts of the slanderer and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and avenger.
- All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you
and have not played false to your covenant.
- Our hearts have not turned back,
nor our steps gone out of your way,
- Yet you have crushed us in the haunt of jackals,
and covered us with the shadow of death.
- If we have forgotten the name of our God,
or stretched out our hands to any strange god,
- Will not God search it out?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
- But for your sake are we killed all the day long,
and are counted as sheep for the slaughter.
- Rise up! Why sleep, O Lord?
Awake, and do not reject us for ever.
- Why do you hide your face
and forget our grief and oppression?
- Our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly cleaves to the earth.
- Rise up, O Lord, to help us
and redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.
This would appear to be a Psalm of two halves. The first half looks to be written when the writer is very upbeat and happy with their lot. They talk about all the successes they have, and attribute all of that to their faith in God. They talk about how God has helped them defeat enemies and helped them overcome armies. They give all the glory for success to their faith in God, and they would appear to be a good and faithful follower.
Then goodness knows what happened, and the writer begins to be very angry with God, and blames him for all sorts of bad things that have happened. They even think that God has hidden his face away from them. It would look like their successes have disappeared and they attribute all this to God leaving them alone to cope.
I wonder if this sounds familiar? Sometimes we walk along, and we see all the wonders of the world, and we find it easy to praise our God. The phrase goes: “God is in his heaven and all is right with the world”. At those times we seem to find it easy to pray and read our bible and we get a great deal out of doing it. We are at peace with all around us and things in all areas of our lives are going well. Everything around us in our family and wherever we worship is fine, and we can see God at work in everything around us.
Then there are times when life literally slaps us in the face, and we are faced with what is for some of us an unimaginable situation, and we turn around and look for God and don’t seem to find him. At these times we may find it hard to pray, and nothing we read or do lifts the feeling of being alone to cope. Friends will come and tell us that God is right at the side of us, but how often do we hear the words and think, “well it doesn’t feel like he is”.
The fact that someone is there at the side is the proof, to me, that God is with me. At the moments of my deepest need he has always given me someone who I know will pray for me, or give me a hug and give me reassurance that “All will be well”.
If we are honest, God is the last person we often ask to help us. It can be that through the prayers of others and their faithfulness to us we find that peace and the ability to cope. During these times God is hearing what we say and feels the sadness that is there within us.
The last few lines of the ‘Footprints’ poem are some of the most uplifting and encouraging words for me:
My precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.
Let’s keep that thought in the front of our minds, and in our hearts, as we get on with our lives today – in the knowledge that God is always with us, just there, waiting to be noticed.
Reflection by Eth Yates
LML Designate (St Peter’s Bryn)