This morning my Bible reading included Psalm 74. All of the “Why’s?” and “How longs?” jumped off the page and settled into my mind as if they came straight from the lips of the persecuted Iraqi people.
Psalm 74 isn’t a praise-God-from-whom-all-blessings-flow-type Psalm. It begins with the Psalmist telling God what’s happening — the destruction of His holy temple, the persecution of His people, the scoffing of the enemy as he runs rampant. The Psalmist lays out the desperate situation and exhorts God to act and to move. However, in the center of this Psalm the Psalmist tucked in a few verses to acknowledge who God is.
The first verse of this section begins with the word, “Yet.” It grabbed my attention because as I was reading I was getting overwhelmed at the startling accuracy with which the Psalmist seemed to be describing the situation in present-day Iraq. I thought to myself, “‘Yet’ what? There’s nothing to “yet” about this situation! It’s hopeless, shameful, and unimaginable. That’s all there is to it.” Ahhh but I’m always wrong about that. I always see one small piece of the chaos and assume the rest is impossible to restore, impossible to glean hope from. And Yet.
“Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.” (v.16-17)
It hits me, “The enemy lives in a world established by God. God did not establish sin and evil (see Genesis for how that mess came about), but everything is God’s. The air breathed by ISIS soldiers, the weather that causes them to wear more layers or less, the turning of each day, the inevitable settling of night. ISIS has no control over the God who controls all things.”
Granted, when I think about 9-year-old girls getting trafficked and women living in shipping containers, it sure seems like evil has total control. It seems reasonable not to hope. To give up and assume that God has too.But the Psalmist doesn’t stop at acknowledging the power of God, he moves to the promises God has made to His people — our only source of Hope. The end of the Psalm closes with phrases such as “Remember this, O LORD; Do not forget; Have regard for the covenant; Defend your cause.”
As I lifted up prayers for the persecuted people of Iraq this morning, I came like the Psalmist, with His promises in my heart and mind. “Lord, you have promised persecution to us but you have also promised us Yourself. Be near to my Iraqi brothers and sisters. Make your presence known. Remind them of your deliverance, not only from the hell they’re living on this earth, but a deliverance to a new earth where no man can steal their daughters, their dignity, or their very lives. You promise to restore, You promise to heal, You promise to save. Don’t forget those promises Lord. Remember your people who are suffering and remind your people who are not suffering of their responsibility and privilege to love, serve, and give.”
Beyond just the physical realities of night and day belonging to God, I’m reminded that He is just as present and real in the joyous days of our lives as he is in the dark nights of pain and terror. God doesn’t reserve his everlasting love and hope of salvation for the days where our lives are humming along. He offers it in the stifling stillness of night, because He is acquainted with sorrow as much (if not more) as He is with joy. God has not forgotten Iraq. He has not turned a blind eye to the work of the Enemy. He is alive and working in ways the news will rarely cover. Even in the darkest of nights, because the night belongs to Him.
Check out this website for how you can tangibly help the people of Iraq by partnering with an organization that has been effectively serving the Iraqi people for the past 10 years: Preemptive Love.