Have you ever gotten so caught up in the tasks or the demands of “today” that you have forgotten how you got here or where you are going? Of course! It happens to all of us. Whether it is the stress and strain of running a business, keeping up with job responsibilities, cramming for your next exam or simply surviving your kids, we have all been there. For most, it is a place we can find ourselves far too frequently if we are not careful.
All throughout the Bible, we find these examples of godly men and women who have gone before us that cry out to God with promises of the past, for the future, concerning the present. If that does not sound really clear, let me give an example:
“Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people;
help me when you save them,
that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
that I may glory with your inheritance.”-(Psalm 106:4-5)
Psalm 106 is a hymn of lament. It is a crying out to God. Not only that, it is one of corporate lament. While this short prayer in verses 4-5 is personal, the rest of the psalm is speaking of the people of God corporately. He begins in verses 1-3 by calling attention to the character of God, calling the people to praise Him for His goodness and steadfast love and appeals to His mighty works as evidence of such.
He follows the introductory call to worship with this prayer from verses 4-5. Notice what he is requesting of God and why:
- What: Remember me…Help me
- when you show favor to your people;
- when you save them;
- Why: That I may…
- look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones;
- rejoice in the gladness of your nation;
- glory with your inheritance.
Now, what we should see here is that, while a personal prayer, it is steeped in an understanding that God’s promise is for His corporate gathering–His nation, His Church–and not primarily for the individuals. It really is a matter of perception here. Not that the Scriptures are to be defined by the perceptions of the individual, by no means! Unfortunately, it is the case, however, that our Western perception is primarily one that emphasizes the individual, not the collective.
Think about what he is saying for a moment… The request for attention from God in his cry to “remember me” and the call for rescue in his pleading “help me” is not presumed to come simply because he prays for it or simply because God is the one who saves. The psalmist expresses faith that the promise for God’s people remains true. He simply wants to be included in the people of the promise!
Again, what is his ultimate desire? All of it is rooted in being connected with the people of the promise! His chosen ones, His nation, His inheritance.
What would it look like in your life and my own if we were to find our hope and confidence in prayer more deeply rooted in our connection to the Body of Christ than our own perceptions of God? I believe it would radically change the way we lived together by helping us to become more simply who we were created to be in Christ–“one body and one Spirit…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6)
As we reflect on the past of this church, let us look forward to the future of what God is doing here at Providence with a singular focus, resting in God’s providence.