Never Overwhelmed

I always enjoy listening to people order food at a restaurant. The waiter asks if they want ice or no ice. Someone wants to know if the sauce is spicy or tangy. Put the ranch dressing in a cup on the side, not on top of the salad. Is the bread gluten-free? I married into a family that will barter with each other before ordering. “If you order this plate, and I order that plate, do you want to split it in half?” Meanwhile, members of my family would say, “I ordered this plate. It’s all mine!” The kids just want their mac and cheese right now. Mom wants them to get their mac and cheese right now, too! And whoever is paying orders a cheeseburger because it’s the cheapest thing on the menu.

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Even a simple process like ordering food reveals to us the fact that people are complicated. Behind all of the preferences, ideas, and words are people with personalities. And we have not just one, not just two, but many reasons and feelings that help explain why we act the way we act. The more we get to know other people, the more we understand the complexities and intricacies of their personalities. So it is with God.

It’s Complicated

For the past few blogs we have looked at what the Psalms teach us about God’s character as revealed in creation. Now we will see that, though we may try to fit God’s character into neat, easily understandable categories, we cannot fully succeed. You cannot fit God’s character into a box.

The Psalms do not speak of God’s character in a dry, systematic fashion. Here is one of the most common combinations describing God’s character in the Psalms:

God’s creative power
enables
his ability to reign over all
in
steadfast love
and
righteousness
(Psalm 33:4-22; 89:9-14; 136; 145:17; 147)

Notice those four character traits. God is the Creator. God is the King. God is the loyal Covenant-Keeper. God is the righteous Judge. He is all those things at once. Were God any one of those things in isolation, we would be in trouble. But he is all of them. Because he is Creator, he has the right to reign. He has the power to help us. He is not a harsh, stingy dictator—he is a benevolent King. He reigns in steadfast, loyal love and righteousness. He has the compassion to heal us.

God Can Handle “Complicated”

Why does that matter to you and me? Because life is complicated. Relationships are complicated. And, when things don’t go as planned, all the complications can seem a bit overwhelming. When we are overwhelmed, we need to remember that God is not. He is everything we need all at once. When we grasp for control over our future, our King reminds us to trust in his plan. When we despair for having made the same mistake for the umpteenth time, our Covenant-Keeper reminds us he never gives up on us. When we sit in stunned silence having experienced the cruelty of this world, our righteous Judge reminds us that he will set all things right.

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Take a moment to read this Psalm and study these four truths: God is the Creator, God is the King, God is the loyal Covenant-Keeper, and God is the righteous Judge (Psalm 33 is another good one to check out!).

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!
~Psalm 111

God, in his character, can handle everything you are facing today. He is never overwhelmed. Run to him. Pour out your heart to him. Find him to be all you need for today.

C.P.

More than a Cosmic Accident

Are you a cosmic accident? Is your purpose nothing more than to exist for a few passing moments on this earth, only to fade away with the mass of humanity? If so, why in the world does this life even matter? If God is not in the picture, these questions leave us hopeless. The Christian worldview gives us so much more to live for. It says that God created you for a higher purpose. You are not an accident. You are here for a reason. And you can know that reason because God has communicated it to you. Your Creator is speaking to you in his Word and revealing himself in creation.

Last time we learned that God reveals himself through the creation of the heavens. But we can also learn about God by considering his creation of the earth. The earth calls us to consider God’s kingship and his ability to deliver us.

The Earth Establishes God’s Kingship

Because God created the earth, he both owns and rules as king over all it contains (Ps. 24:1-2; 50:10-11; 74:12). Unlike us, and unlike the ancient pagan gods, he does not need the earth to sustain Himself (Ps. 50:12-13). The survival of every king in the history of the world depended on their ability to rule and protect their kingdom. Even a king has his limits. But not so with God—he does not need us or any other part of his created order. And yet, even though God is totally self-sustaining, he is the God of salvation. He chooses to stoop down and deliver us.

The Earth Exhibits God’s Deliverance

Earlier this year in the month of May the London art gallery tried to feature an exhibit called “Majestic Splendor” by Lee Bul. Notice I said, “tried.” The artwork consisted of rotting fish decorated with sequins and beads, sealed in small plastic bags (for obvious reasons). Apparently the compounds these fish emit can easily combust, and that is just what happened. The fish combusted, causing a minor fire in the London art gallery. The gallery canceled the exhibit.

It seems like these days people will put just about anything on display. And while some people may be fascinated with zany exhibits in the London art gallery, God is concerned with putting his saving character on display. The earth is his display case. Notice Psalm 74:12,

“Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth.”

God wants to display your life on earth as an example of his saving character. As Creator and King over the earth, his art exhibit of your life takes the “best in show.”

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Because God delivers us, we can have confidence no matter what kinds of physical threats surround us. He controls it all.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
~Psalm 46:1-3 (cf. 96:6-9)

When God delivers Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, the sea, mountains, and the Jordan are all asked why they “flee…turn back…and skip…like rams” and “lambs.”

The earth “tremble[s]…at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.”
~Psalm 114:3-8

In these verses, the earth visibly responds to the presence of God as if in fear. We can trust God’s control and ability to save in spite of our smallness in his creation, because everything is small compared to God. Everything trembles before the Creator King. 

Consider Jesus

For just a moment, journey out of the Psalms with me to the gospels. Think of the disciples who were with Jesus in a small fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. In the midst of a life-threatening storm they wake Jesus with the cry,

“‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”
~Mark 4:38-41

It was not some cosmic accident that caused those disciples to get caught in the storm. And the storms in your life are not a cosmic accident, either. This same Jesus is tenderly calling to you today, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” He is the King and Creator of the earth, and he can calm the storm in your life. Perhaps you have ignored Jesus for a long time. Or perhaps you have been running to him daily. No matter what your circumstances, there is comfort and conviction in the fact that the Creator King is purposefully working in the lives of every person on this planet. We each must face this question: “Will I turn to him? Will I trust him?” The answer to that question will make all the difference in the world.

C.P.