Psalm 74:1-2 O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture? Remember your congregation, which you acquired long ago, which you redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage. Remember Mount Zion, where you came to dwell.
Sometimes the most important thing we need to hear, is that we are not alone. We may focus on Jesus words on the cross, My God My God, why hast thou forsaken me. We may read Job’s lament, and identify with his suffering. But it is not often that we recognize that most generally, we do not suffer alone. While there are many afflictions, when we look at ourselves, we often fail to notice that share, suffering just like we do – and as soon as we see the others, the focus turns from me, to WHY?
WHY? Well, if we are the sheep of his pasture, what it is that might have gotten God angry? Did he wake up one morning, and decide that he just didn’t like sheep anymore and abandon us? Or was it something else? If we are like sheep, all going astray, each going our own way – how long does it take before the shepherd just gets frustrated?
Now suppose the sheep decide that they want to go to some other pasture – are they still the sheep of his pasture when they go elsewhere? Its one of the terms we use to speak of sin – trespass - and also transgression – both have to do with being on the wrong side of the fence. Question – Is it reasonable to blame God because we trespass and transgress – that is, when we stray, looking for greener pastures. Isn’t looking for greener pastures, really just another way of saying, we are looking for other gods? If we look for other gods, and find that they just don’t deliver – do we really expect that God will be waiting for us to return?
We didn’t worry much about salvation when we were in God’s pasture, and we didn’t worry about what we might be leaving, when temptation led us to leave God’s pasture – but when we find ourselves in trouble – why do we expect that the God whom we had abandoned is going to come running to rescue us immediately?
I don’t know why we expect it, I don’t know why we offer all the arguments as to why God ought to listen – there is no reason, and no argument that can excuse our transgression, trespass, or sin – why? I don’t know why – but I do know that God does have mercy upon us. It wasn’t that we had a good excuse, certainly not because we were worthy – and it may be that our only complaint is that sometimes we are left to stew, because God does not act according to our time table. And some times it is necessary to be left to stew for a while [for that is what happens when one is left in hot water] otherwise, we may never really repent of what we have done.
Sure we may feel sorry for the suffering we feel – but that is rather like being sorry we got caught – for repentance is more than just being sorry – Repentance is a recognition of just how wrong our sin is, and how much it has hurt God [and our fellow man] – along with a sincere desire to stop doing it, to really change. So it is that the Bible reminds us that no discipline is pleasant, it is painful – but even though it is painful, discipline is a necessary part of growth – and the only people who are without discipline, are those whose parents didn’t love them enough to discipline them.
Does God remember us? Of course he does!
Will salvation come? Of course it will!
Why? Because God made man in his image, God is greater than we are, and so he does more than we expect, and more than we deserve. I don’t know why – but I do know that God’s love for us, even in sin is greater than our understanding.