My great friend Bill said he was glad things were getting back to “normal” after Easter. What is normal?
“Normal” for us may be those moments of routine and predictability, of being secure with few worries—all with people we love and love us back. Freedom to do and be what we want is part of the equation. “Normal” is equated with the blessings of God and affliction feels out of place.
“Normal” life takes a left turn because of personal sin or circumstances out of our control. Disappointment sets in. Our health declines. Income goes down. Plans go awry. People we trust become distant. Maybe, like Israel, our joy has turned to despair.
Israel had known the blessings of God and wanted them to return in Psalm 85, too. But reality has a way of getting in the way. They had the favor of God: ”LORD, You were favorable to Your land; You restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of Your people; You covered all their sin. You withdrew all your wrath you turned from your hot anger” (vss. 1-3).
And we ask: Is God punishing me? Maybe He is chastising us (Hebrews 12:1-4). Maybe He is ramping up His into-the-character-of-Christ plan (Romans 8:29; James 1:2-9). And we pray (and should), “Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away Your indignation toward us! Will you prolong Your anger…revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psalm 85: 4-6a).
There are hints of God’s “normal” blessed life in Psalm 85 for those who follow Christ. Steadfast love is foundational, along with promised salvation (rescue from the presence of God and Christ and help/deliverances in this life (7). “Normal” for a child of God also includes the privilege to “hear” from God (8). How are you doing this? Christians affirm we cannot know what God is like unless He reveals Himself to us. How glad we are that God has given us the Scriptures which are able to lead us to salvation and to know, in part, what God is like.
Psalm 85 wonderfully points us to an important goal of hearing and knowing—peace—and to the result if we ignore what God has said for us—“folly” (8).
The fear of the Lord (deep, abiding reverence) brings life and the way to fully realize our great salvation in Christ (9).
These promises and their fulfillment have a future in Psalm 85. In part now, and soon in the future, Psalm 85 looks to the fullest unveiling of God’s steadfast love, righteousness, peace. All creation and earth will be as meant to be (10-13). They will join—”kiss each other”—as the LORD gives what is “good” to His own (12). These are life-stabilizing and joy-giving gifts from the LORD (13).
Easter was historical and a prelude and power to what is the “normal” abundant life with God in Christ. Pursue “normal” for His glory with all you have.