O God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear; do not stand aloof, O God. Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord—that you alone are Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 83:1,18)
In 1996 the American Council for the United Nations established the Millennium Project, an international think tank which was charged with the task of identifying global challenges and addressing and raising awareness of those challenges. The Project’s stated purpose is to “Improve humanity’s prospects for building a better future.” The think tank identified “15 Global Challenges” that are “trans-national in nature and trans-institutional in solution.” In other words, really, really big challenges that no single organization or nation can address alone. This includes things like climate change, clean water, income inequality, peace & conflict, education & learning. The kinds of “impossible problems” that drive us either to wring our hands in despair or to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
But there’s another option to thinking about the world’s impossible problems—take them up with God!
In Psalm 83 Asaph, the worship-leader/prophet/prayer warrior, takes his impossible problems up with God. Why is God not doing anything about all the problems in the world, OR all the problem people, for that matter? Asaph begins his song by telling God off: “God, don’t remain silent; don’t turn a deaf ear; don’t stand aloof as if you don’t even care!” (vs. 1) Those are pretty bold and brave words to direct at an all-powerful God!
Asaph is frustrated—waiting for God to speak, waiting for God to pay attention to his cries for help, waiting for God to DO SOMETHING! He goes on to describe the impossible problem: God’s enemies are growling and rearing their heads like wild animals (vs. 2); they are conspiring and plotting together against God’s chosen people (vs. 3-8). Asaph gives God some suggestions about what exactly God should do about all of this—make them like dung rotting on the ground, or like tumbleweeds that are swept away in the wind, or forests that are ravaged by firestorms (vs. 9-15). Asaph suggests that if God would do this—DO SOMETHING—then those enemies would either seek God’s name, or (better yet) perish in disgrace when they don’t (vs. 16-17). He finishes the song with one last plea: God, “let them know that you alone are most high over all the earth” (vs. 18).
If God would just DO SOMETHING, everything would be alright!
Now, I’m not here to take issue with Asaph’s heart-felt cries for justice, but I wonder what we can learn from considering his assessment of the situation and his proposed solutions. Is it true that God is unaware of or indifferent to the impossible problems (or impossible people) we confront in this world? Why would he let those things continue? We know that God is powerful enough to deal with all of it, but does God care enough? What is he waiting for?
What if God is waiting for us to DO SOMETHING?
Psalm 83 reminds me of an “old” song by Matthew West called Do Something. Like Asaph, Matthew West sees all the impossible problems in the world and wonders whether God knows, whether God cares enough to DO SOMETHING.
I woke up this morning, saw a world full of trouble now, and thought:
How’d we ever get so far down, and how’s it ever gonna turn around?
So I turned my eyes to Heaven; I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
I just couldn’t bear the thought of people living in poverty, children sold into slavery; The thought disgusted me.
So, I shook my fist at Heaven and said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, yeah, I created you!”
Maybe God wants us to do something. Maybe it’s not that he wants to disgrace and destroy his enemies, maybe he’s wanting and waiting for them to “seek His name,” and “know that He alone is most high over all the earth.” I wonder how THAT’S going to happen?
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Rome, speculated that perhaps God was purposefully and patiently withholding his wrath so that people would come to know his goodness and mercy (Romans 9:22-24). Rather than hoping for people’s destruction and disgrace, what about sharing Jesus’ good news and demonstrating Jesus’ better life? Rather than wringing our hands helplessly or shaking our angry fist at God as sin and death ravage God’s beloved world, what if we DO SOMETHING? God tell us that all he requires of us is to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8) What if while we’re waiting for God, all the while God has been waiting for us to DO SOMETHING?
Jesus told his disciples (and us) that, “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) Why doesn’t God DO SOMETHING about all of the mess in the world? He did; he created us and called us to action! And this same Jesus who promised that we would be part of his solution to the impossible problems, also promised that he would be with us “to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Don’t despair when you see the impossible problems (or impossible people) all around you; dive in! Christ has given you the keys to the kingdom…the authority and the love and the power to effect real change and to offer real life in Him. He is the Living Water…for you and for this dry and dying world…stay thirsty for him!