Are you happy? Are you experiencing life as full, abundant, joyful, and full of infinite possibilities, or are you living a life of struggle, frustration, pain, apathy, and lack? Do you wish life could be different, but have resigned yourself to the race belief that life is a trial to be endured, not an adventure waiting to be lived?
You are not alone. Millions of people around the world live lives of quiet desperation, working jobs they hate, ruled by corrupt institutions, living in substandard conditions, and dealing with family members and loved ones who bring them nothing but pain. Most accept fatalistically that this is the way life is, or how God intended life to be, because we have been taught this idea from the moment we came forth from our mother’s womb into this world. The powerful in society, the governmental, business, and religious leaders, continue to tell this story because it leaves them in control of the vast resources of the world while they resign the majority of humanity to a fight and struggle for the crumbs that fall from the master’s table. As a result, most people never dare to dream that life can be anything more than a struggle for survival, or a test to be endured until death finally comes to bring us eternal rest from our pain.
But what if this story of life is a false story? What if life is only perceived as difficult because those in power have controlled the way we think, and if we could perceive life differently, if we could throw off the shackles that the powerful have put on our minds and hearts, then life would be abundant, happy, and full beyond our wildest dreams? What if God is waiting, patiently, for people to call on him with confidence so that he can unleash the awesome, infinite power of the spirit into their lives, which would begin to transform them, their circumstances, and the very world which the powerful have forced us all to inhabit? Would it be worth trying to see if it is true?
This experiment is enacted by the author of Psalm 40. The Psalm begins with the phrase:
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
The Psalmist is letting us in on a great secret, if we have ears to hear and eyes to see. He is telling us about how he waited patiently for the Lord, which is another way of saying he believed with conviction that God was good, and righteous, and compassionate, and holy, and as a result God would answer his request. The Psalmist tells us that because of his firm conviction, shown through his patience, the Lord turns to him. What a wonderful image! Before this, he experienced God as having turned his back to him, but now the Lord turns and shows him his face. He sees for the first time that the God he was introduced to by the leaders of Israel was a false God, and for the first time in his life he meets the true God of Israel, the Lord.
How strikingly different is this image from the image of God presented to us by our religious leaders, an image of a God who demands worship and sacrifice (mediated of course by his churches), a God who supports the powerful and demands money, a God who encourages those who are not in power to be submissive and accept their lot in life, a God who keeps score and cannot wait to punish humans for the least little transgression. For his whole life the Psalmist was taught this image of God, a deity who was distant and could only be approached by offering sacrifices through the mediation of the Temple Priesthood. For all intents and purposes, God had turned his back on him, for he did not know him, nor did he feel that God cared about him. But something inside him tells him that the Lord is not a distant, uninterested, deity of the powerful and he acts with conviction on this faith. He waits patiently for the Lord, and amazingly God turns his face to him and hears his cry.
The next verses of Psalm 40 tell us how the Psalmist’s world, and his circumstances, have now changed forever because of his new found knowledge of the Lord.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
This firm act of faith by the Psalmist changes his worldview and his world. God has lifted him out of the slimy pit, the mud and mire of limiting human beliefs about God and the world, and into a world where anything is possible because the Lord is waiting to make it so. This is symbolized by the rock he now stands on. He no longer ascribes to the race view that life is a slimy pit of despair, suffering, and death, but he now stands firm on the rock of conviction that life is good, that God is good, and that what he formerly believed was an illusion. This belief is expressed when God:
put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in him.
Fear of the Lord is not a state of anxiety, but is instead a response of awe and reverence. When we meet the true God for the first time, we are rightly awed at the power of the Lord, the Power of his Spirit. We realize that anything is possible, so we put our trust in him. The Psalmist tells us that his testimony will enlighten many others to put their trust in God. They will see his face as well, and their lives will be forever changed. They will become vessels for the infinite Power of the Spirit.
We cannot wait for the rich and powerful to mend their ways, and honestly we have to admit at this point that many will not. We should pity them because they suffer from the same illusions of lack, struggle, pain, and suffering as everyone else, the difference being that they have sold their souls to the illusion and created institutions dedicated to it, which makes it harder for them to get out. They are trapped, where as we, because of our lack of power and influence, have a way out.
Our world is changing. The world of lack, pain, suffering, and death is crumbling around us. The powerful are raging because they cannot control the runaway train of change that is sweeping through the world. Economies are in free fall. Governments are going bankrupt. Religions are in decline, both in membership and influence. God seems to have turned his back, or is instead turning his face towards us in wrath. People wander as if in a daze, full of apathy, violence, ignorance, and greed. Many ask, is this the end of the world?
For the world of pain and lack, yes the end is in sight. But we do not need to go down with it. We can wait patiently for the Lord, we can believe and trust in his goodness, mercy, love, concern, and infinite power and ride through the storms raging around us and live lives of victory, abundance, joy, and peace. We can, like the Psalmist be lifted out of the muck and slime of this world of death and be placed firmly on the rock of truth. And if we trust, with conviction, believing that God can do anything, and that God wants us to be happy and live full lives, we will become a new creature, worthy to step out of the ashes of this crumbling world system into a new age of human life without limitation, without suffering, and that transcends death.