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(Click or hover over the above Scripture reference link to read the passage.)
Most of us have been so low or so discouraged that it feels like we are completely alone. Where it feels like there is only evil in the world. It feels like God has completely abandoned this fallen world. This is where the psalmist finds himself in Psalm 12:1-2. The words no one and everyone pop off the page. In the emotional state of pain the psalmist is in, it doesn’t feel like there is a single other person on the planet who is still faithful to the Lord. Instead the planet if full of boastful liars, living only for selfish gain.
It can feel this way, can’t it? You may have never felt that everyone on the earth is a malicious liar or that no one else besides you is faithful to the Lord, but if you’re anything like me, I bet you have felt like you are one of the few Jesus followers left. You may have gotten this feeling from reading news headlines, from following politics, or from a school or workplace that is dominated by coarse language and selfish living. You may have been mocked for your faith. You may have gone through (or are going through) intense suffering, as the psalmist is alluding to here.
He begins by lamenting how it feels like he is the only faithful follower of God left. His prayer then shifts that God would stop evil people in their tracks, that he would literally silence their lips. In verse 5, God speaks. He has heard the cry of the poor who are being plundered. God rises to protect them. The psalmist worships God, then prays and proclaims that God will keep the needy safe and will protect his people from the wicked, even though the wicked continue to strut about, gloating in their wickedness. Verse 8 concludes the psalm with an unsettling truth we are all too familiar with today: what is vile is honored by the human race.
Sometimes I think it can’t get any worse than it is right now. Or that it’s never been this bad. Psalm 12:8 reminds me that it’s been this way for thousands of years. On one hand, that sure is a discouraging thought on its own. But despite humankind’s obsession with and acceptance of evil, hope and encouragement come from knowing God has remained faithful all this time. If the evil of the past hasn’t knocked God out, the evil of the present sure isn’t going to either. God has remained on the throne. God cares about the needy and the oppressed. God will judge the wicked. God is and always has been worthy of our praise, adoration, and obedience.
You are not alone. You are not defeated.
We need these truths now, as much as followers of God have always needed them. This psalm reminds me of the prophet Elijah’s intense battles with depression and discouragement he faced. Elijah already knew that Obadiah had hidden a hundred of the Lord’s prophets into caves (1 Kings 18:13), yet he still says on two occasions that he is the only one of the Lord’s prophets left (1 Kings 18:22, 1 Kings 19:10). The first time this false statement comes out of his mouth because he is comparing his situation to the four hundred fifty evil prophets of Baal he was going up against. The second time he says this false statement, he is near suicidal and pleading with God to end his life. God responds to Elijah by telling him that he has reserved seven thousand in Israel who have never bowed their knees to Baal (1 Kings 19:18), one of whom was Elisha, the strong and powerful prophet who would succeed Elijah as Israel’s lead prophet.
Elijah was certainly not alone, and never was.
Elijah’s discouragement had him living in a false reality. He was living as if he was the only one left, but he wasn’t. We do this so often as well. We live like we are completely defeated and alone, when God is still at work all around us. We live isolated, when God has invited (and commanded) us to join in community with other followers of Jesus. We are to follow Jesus together, caring for one another along the way. I know the false reality of Elijah well. Please know there is no shame in being in that place. Experience the grace of knowing that even a spiritual giant like Elijah experienced what you are experiencing. And also know that God invites you to see him today. To see how he often works underground in the root systems, producing incredible growth that may or may not ever been seen on the surface of this fallen and broken world.
When the lies come in telling you that you are alone, speak truth to them.
You are not alone.
You are loved.
Prayer for the day: God, it often feels like I’m all alone. That no one cares. That this world’s evil is too much. Open my eyes to see you. Open my ears to hear you. To hear your still, small voice of love. Give me the courage to step into community with other followers of Jesus. Help me to show them grace when they fall short. Give me strength to not give up. Thank you that you are on the throne. Thank you that you care for the needy. Thank you that you care for me when I am in need. Help me to follow your heart and to orient my life around caring for those who are in need. Thank you for your victory.
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