From A Distance

September 15, 2018
by John Stuart

Psalm 10:1 – Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (NIV)

Do you ever get frustrated with injustice?

I love the absolute honesty in the Book of Psalms. Whoever wrote those ancient poems certainly wore his heart on his sleeve. Psalm 10 is a good example of someone who finds it difficult to deal with the greed and injustice in his society. His complaint to God is that the rich get richer, the wicked become more powerful, and the proud are brazen about their vanity. If ever a psalm were written for our times, this one is very fitting, meaningful, and highly relevant.

The psalmist's complaint, however, is directed at God for what appears to be His very significant absence in the midst of so much injustice. The poet finds it difficult to see what is happening around him when the God of his heart is doing nothing to change things. God seems to be impotent, unmoved, and distant. Evil triumphs when God is silent; good is cast aside when God does not respond. The author has put a lot of time, commitment, and devotion into his religious belief. He is perplexed when God is inactive; he is deeply disappointed when God does not challenge or remove the evildoers.

Sometimes, I deal with the same frustration. I want things to be fair and just for everyone. I want the world to be a place that is free from fear and cruelty. I want the oppressed to be delivered and the marginalized to be accepted. I want all sorts of godliness to be apparent in our leaders. And if these things don't happen, I want God to come bursting into our world to set things right, to make things smooth, and to restore hope, peace, and love for everyone.

And then, I remember that God has already done this on the cross at Calvary. Every wrong has been pinned to that tree of shame. Every sin has been nailed to that broken body of Christ. Every injustice has been impaled on Jesus. Instead of being at a distance, God has come beside us; instead of being far off, God has penetrated our unjust society.

Changing the world began with Christ, but it has to continue through me. I can complain about things around me and fill my prayers with my personal frustrations, but if I am not willing to make the necessary changes in my own life, how can I criticize God? I may air my grievances and vent my spleen to my heart's content. I can carry a thousand placards and march down a million streets, but if I do nothing to change my personal acts of injustice, prejudice, and indifference, I am only a clanging cymbal of cynicism; I am only a clashing drum of discontent.

Points to ponder: What things would I like to change in my community, society, and the world? What am I doing to accomplish those changes?

Prayer: Lord God, it's very easy for us to complain and shift the responsibility for our broken and divided world onto someone else. We forget our own sinful part and ignore our own wicked deeds. None of us is perfect; not one of us is innocent. Challenge us to change; teach us to transform; encourage us to evolve. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks, John, so true!


    Good message, thank you.


    Thanks for the encouraging word, John.


    So true. Well said!
    (B.C.)


    I appreciate this devotional.
    (MI)


    Thank you, John, for sharing this devotional with us. Blessings.


    Thank you for this devotional and the prayer. We need God’s help to transform.


    So rather perfect a devotional for our day and times… for any time… John. Thank you.


    Thank you, John, for taking the time, the love, and the care, to write the Devotional for us today. I appreciate you!
    God bless.


    Thank you for this offering. We were particularly impressed and blessed with the word pictures in the paragraph.. ”and then, I remember “
    (NH)


    Amen!! Thank you, Rev. Stuart. It’s the age old story, isn’t it. We’re quick to blame God for what’s wrong in our lives, in the world; and often forget to Thank Him for what’s right.
    Always good to read one from you.


    John, thanks.
    Such a good reflection this morning.
    I appreciate the balance you have of personal and societal.
    (MI)


    Good morning John,
    What a powerful and deeply meaning devotional! Thank you so much. Your first paragraph about the relevance of the Psalms to the current condition of our world is right on.
    Blessings to you.
    (B.C.)


    Very challenging thoughts. But to discover how to change, what to change, how to become involved is an equally challenging concept, if not more so. However, if God lays it on one’s heart I believe it is achievable in His strength.
    I also believe it is certainly worth asking for His leading in such areas.
    Thanks for the thoughts to consider and pray about.


    Hi John,
    Your interpretation of Psalm 10 and its application to the time we live in are certainly very appropriate. It is like you wrote the words could be written for us right here right now. I made a copy of your devotional and I’m going to study it and the Psalm as well.
    I have used a series of Psalms for my Spiritual Talks at the local long term care centre and they are such great writings.
    Thank you for writing.


    Your thoughts and my thoughts converge, John. We think God is not in the picture but He always is, and eventually he makes the difference.
    Blessings to you and yours.

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