With the news of another mass shooting, this time at an elementary school in Uvalde, I awoke today asking, "Where are you God, in the face of such evil?" We are all in grief over this tragedy, shocked again at such evil. As I struggled with this anguish my heart was drawn to the psalms of lament. Today I am praying Psalm 10, which begins with the psalmist asking why God stands far off when wicked men enact evil and violence against others.
This psalm echoes our hearts as it moves from questioning God to a plea for God to act with power and protection in favor of the helpless. The psalmist urges God not to remain far off but to come near, to act as the mighty Deliverer. Finally, even in the face of brutality, this psalm concludes by affirming that God indeed loves those who are in need and comes to the defense of the oppressed. This affirmation of trust strikes me as defiance. This trust is a defiance of evil by naming the existence of a God who determines good and evil, who is sovereign and judge, and who desires justice and deliverance for all those made in His image.
And this trust, when enacted by God's children, is a defiance of evil when we pattern our lives after the God who hears the cry of the afflicted, encourages them, and defends the fatherless.
Therefore, as I meditate on this psalm, I find myself asking, how do we as Christ's church both pray for God's kingdom to come and enact God's kingdom in the present in the face of such evil? How can we listen to the cries of the afflicted, encouraging them concretely to know they are not alone? How can we come to the defense of the fatherless and oppressed, tangibly advocating for the protection of those made in God's very image and a shalom that mirrors God's desires for the world?
These are complex questions, with no shortage of debate for their answers here in Texas and in our wider country and globe. In the meantime, with our grief on this day, I pray we will lament, question, listen, encourage, and consider the call to protect the helpless. We begin by praying, "Why, Lord, do you stand far off?"
Psalm 10 (NIV)
1 Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, "Nothing will ever shake me." He swears, "No one will ever do me harm."
7 His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
9 like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, "God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees."
12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, "He won't call me to account?"
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man; call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out.
16 The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.