O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild. They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead. We are objects of contempt to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us. How long, Lord ? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name; for they have devoured Jacob and devastated his homeland. Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants. May the groans of the prisoners come before you; with your strong arm preserve those condemned to die. Pay back into the laps of our neighbors seven times the contempt they have hurled at you, Lord. Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise. – Psalm 79:1-13
The reference to water in this passage is fleeting, but there was so much going on here that I felt I should pause at this riffle to reflect. The question posed “where is their God” is one that is often asked when tragedy strikes or Christians are persecuted for their faith. It is a valid question, especially when we see Christians being killed by the hundreds in Iraq…”where is there God?”
“The blood of the people is being poured out like water in Jerusalem”. This was true during the time of this Psalm, and unfortunately it is increasingly true all over the world today. God is not absent so why does he not act to prevent the bloodshed? I do not know. Perhaps this is one of the questions that will be answered when the veil is lifted between us and God and we are able to see Him face to face.
I think that, just like the Jews during the time of Jesus, we want a mighty messiah who will avenge the spilled blood. What we got was a Messiah who spilled His blood for us instead. The battle is a spiritual one for our souls. The physical pain and shed blood, although heart wrenching and horrendous to our earthly eyes, are a mere distraction from the spiritual battles being waged for our souls.
A common explanation for the reason bad things happen to those who are following God is that we live in a fallen world. God did not say that in following Him we would avoid earthly trouble, in fact Jesus said essentially that if we choose to follow Him we are almost guaranteed to experience trials and tribulations. But take heart Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). The spiritual battle is won not by might but by steadfast souls unwilling to give up on our Savior, and a Savior unwilling to give up on us. In the end God wins.
Prayer: It is hard to see your followers persecuted for the the love they show for You. Bring us peace through your Son Jesus.