It’s just another year. Maybe.
The grandkids are all changing and still so much fun. The bills keep coming. Some relationships are diving deeper into closeness while others drift on. Aging still isn’t for sissies (darn that arthritis and…). Solomon was right, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Thank You for sustaining us another year, Father.
But then, 2021 doesn’t feel normal, does it? There’s that new vocabulary word and deadly nuisance, Covid. Will it ever go away?! Finances are tight—and for many devastating. “Social distancing” is taking its toll. The political world is deeply unsettling. We seem to be drifting apart from people we used to see often—and want to see. And the world is less safe and more evil all the time.
What does God say in the midst of these storms (cf. Mark 4:35f)? Back to the Psalms to start the New Year.
“In Judah God is known; His name is great in Israel” (Psalm 76:1). In all of Israel’s wars and afflictions Yahweh makes Himself known to those who will see and listen. He takes the initiative. His presence was uniquely in Jerusalem then (1-3). These days, it is through the Scriptures and the church—the “body of Christ.” Soon, all followers of Christ will join Him in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21). What a privilege to gather with the saints now who display God’s life as a prelude to our future.
Help comes because God is “glorious” (ESV) or “resplendent” (NIV, NAS). He is “more majestic than the mountains full of prey” (4). “The word ‘majestic’ (mighty) is a royal attribute denoting his victories…his might in judgment…his law…and his rule over creation…” Verses 5-9 tell the story: “stouthearted were stripped of their spoil…all men of war were unable to use their hands…At your rebuke, O God of Judah, both rider and horse lay stunned.” He is on our side and stunning.
The psalmist tells us how to respond. First, God is to be feared (7, 12). In context, those opposed to God should live in dread. They have seen His judgment wrath, and more is coming (8-10). They have no standing before Him; their defense for acceptance is less than a crushed grain of sand before Mt. Everest. For Christ-followers, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). We bow before God in adoration, not terror. His love and mercy are ours! Soon, “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord” (Philippians 2:10).
Other stabilizing, comforting responses to God come in verses 10-11. Worship, not whining is fundamental (“praise,” 10; “bring gifts,” 11). “Praise is the occupation of the soul with the blessings of God.” Last, verse 11 admonishes us to “Do for God what you said you’d do—he is, after all, your God” (The Message). Constancy brings its own purpose and peace.
Are you in a boat during a storm like the disciples in Mark 4? Jesus will still your storm as you see and follow Him faithfully.