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Maintaining joyful trust in God
As the deer season comes to an end, I’m sure we all have our idea of how it went. Some will consider this the best year ever, some will call it a success, and some will bemoan its disappointment. I fear most will fall into this last category. Even though I would call this year a success, by far and away, most of my years would be considered a disappointment. Sometimes it’s because of my failure or selectiveness, and sometimes it’s just because nothing around me cooperated. Each year brings its own difficulties, and sometimes those difficulties compound and make for a year where the circumstances make it hard to find any positive attribute and any reason to continue the effort. But we do. And we should, because our message to others about our love for hunting will ring more convincing during the difficult times. This is also true about our faith. To have a joyful trust in God in the middle of a dissolving world, will speak more of our God than anything we can say during the good times. Let me explain.
It was the Children of Israel who had been taken captive by the Babylonians. God had told them this would happen due to their disobedience. Even the ones who were not the cause would have to suffer with those who were. So, there they are, in the middle of Babylon. In Captivity. In a country that has no use for their God. In a place where they were the minority. In circumstances where their gripes and complaints would seem legitimate. So, what did God want them to do? Sing. Yes, sing. King David, most likely the writer of Psalm 137, described the interaction this way.
By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
Their response was this. “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”
In essence, they were saying. “How can we be joyful and hopeful when things are so bad.”
The next verse shows what the writer hears from God.
“If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.”
What was God telling them – and us?
If we cannot praise God during the most difficult times, we will never praise God. If we wait for only the good times to give thanks, we will never give thanks. If we can only sing when our world is right, we will never sing. If it is true that a believer’s joy and trust comes from Who is in us and not from what is around us, then it will be perfectly natural for us to sing the songs of Heaven even if Hell is closing in around us.
• Gary has three books that are compilations of the articles he has written for nearly 15 years. He also speaks at game dinners and men’s groups for churches and associations. You can contact him at email@example.com.