13 Get up, Lord!
Bring them down!
Rescue my life from the wicked—
use your sword!
14 Rescue me from these people—
use your own hands, Lord!
Rescue me from these people
whose only possession is their fleeting life.
But fill the stomachs of your cherished ones;
let their children be filled full
so that they have leftovers enough for their babies.
15 But me? I will see your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I will be filled full by seeing your image.
Again today, the psalmist calls out for justice in the face of overwhelming evil.
When we are faced with situations and structures that we feel powerless to do anything against, it is natural for us to call on God for help. When we see people being ground beneath the wheels of corrupt and uncaring systems, it is understandable how those calls for help might even take the form of prayers for God will destroy those who hurt others.
Let’s be honest: how many of us have prayed some of those prayers as we watched the news from Ukraine unfolding? We feel helpless, hopeless, and furious.
In moments like these, it’s important to consider that prayer is meant not only to change the world (though I certainly believe it can). We need to remember that it’s also – and perhaps primarily – meant to change us. Sometimes we come to God with angry prayers – and that’s ok. God can handle that. Prayer time is a safe space for us to speak, even scream, all of those thoughts.
But I am not sure God ever allows us to stay there. What makes me say that? Note how the psalm ends. After many expressions of fear and anxiety, after many verses feeling besieged and beleaguered, there finally comes this verse:
I will see your face in righteousness; when I awake, I will be filled full by seeing your image.
In the end, what’s important is not seeing one’s enemies punished. In the end, what’s important is seeing the face of God.
Consider this: in Genesis, people sin and they hide from God’s face (3:10). In Revelation, when evil is conquered, people see God constantly (Revelation 21:22). In the in between time, as we struggle with faith in the face of a fallen world, we look forward to those glimpses of God’s face that remind us of the hope that is to come.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Take a moment to consider which emotions have been driving your prayers lately. Anger? Anxiety? Fear? How might God’s Spirit be calling you to transform these prayers today?
Prayer: Holy and righteous God, even in the midst of situations that call us to deep anger, help us to seek your face in prayer. Amen.