Thursday, July 21, 2011

Psalm 1 (and then some)

According to Psalm 1:6a, "The LORD watches over the way of the righteous."  I've been immersed in Christian culture long enough to know the truth of that statement, at least in my head.  In the past, I would have turned to a verse like that when I was struggling and been comforted.  Now, reading that verse leaves me  vaguely disturbed.  It's hard to explain how I can simultaneously know the truth of God's protection and also feel uncomfortable when reading a verse about it, but it basically comes down to a general overriding feeling that while God may be watching over me, he is certainly not interceding for me in any way.  Again, I'm not trying to offend or renounce my faith, so don't worry about me too much.

Here are the options that come to mind when I think about verse 6:

  1. I am not, in fact, righteous enough to be watched over.  Therefore, I need to repent to be made righteous in God's eyes.  This makes sense as I know I am a sinner, but makes me feel like there are some magic words that need to be said to make everything better with God.  And that doesn't mesh with everything I have ever known to be true about Him.
  2. I am actually being watched over, but I fail to recognize God's presence.  I need to be more aware of how He is working in my life.  But, how do I go about being more aware of Him.
  3. The promise is untrue.  I'm not saying this is what I believe, but logically, it's an option for why I feel like I'm not being watched over.
  4. When God says He will watch over us, He doesn't mean that He will actually step in, just that He is aware of what is going on.  So maybe, for some reason, God is fully aware of my struggle and not providing peace and comfort while I'm dealing with the difficulties.  This, to me, is the most devastating possible conclusion of the four.  How could a God I know to be loving see how much I'm struggling, hear me desperately call to Him, and not respond to me?
I think there might be some truth in some of these options.  I am a sinner who constantly needs to repent, something that I don't do nearly as much as I need to.  I am probably turning a blind eye to the way God is actually working in my life, partly because I'm angry and partly because I'm out of practice.  I don't think God should remove me from the struggle or fix the situation, but I also don't think there's anything biblically unsound about expecting peace or comfort.  

So I guess I'm no closer to understanding what it really means that God is watching over me.  I was brought up to believe verses like Psalm 1:6 and also Nahum 1:7, which says, "The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust him."  I have felt this sense of refuge before, but now, because God has felt so distant through so many troubled times, me heart can't honestly admit to trusting that God is my refuge. Sadly, this has meant that I don't have any reliable source of refuge at all through what has been the most emotionally difficult times of my life.

I am going into this "study" with more questions than answers.  In fact, the more I think about my questions, the more I come up with.  But, life is not always packaged neatly.  Sometimes questions take time to be answered and sometimes there are no answers to be had, and I'm learning that the process of seeking answers can be more trying than I ever imagined.

So, I guess my goal in all this is not really to look for simple answers. I'm seeking to be honest with myself and my God as I question and eventually, to find the peace and refuge that has been alluding me for so long.

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