Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Biblical Response to America's Tragedy, Part 3

Leslie Basham: Is it wrong to question God when bad things happen? Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It's not wrong to ask God "why?"--as long as we ask not with a clenched fist but with a searching heart.

Leslie Basham: It's Wednesday, October 3rd, and you are listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Our world has been asking many questions in the wake of the tragic event that took place on September 11th. One question people are asking is, "How could a good God allow such a tragedy?" Today Nancy will point us to Scripture to help us put our questions into perspective. Let's join Nancy as she teaches in front of a small group of women.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I doubt that any of us will ever, ever forget where we were on the morning of September 11th, 2001, when the reports began to come back of the attacks by terrorists on the twin towers and at the Pentagon. Now, weeks later, there's a question that many people are asking (and perhaps you've wondered yourself), not where were you when the attack took place, but where was God? How could a good God stand by and let something like this happen?

We're looking this week at some passages of Scripture, some psalms, that have ministered grace to my own heart in the midst of these recent weeks.

I want to ask you to turn in your Bible, if you have it there, to Psalm chapter 10, Psalm number 10. We're going to look at several verses from this psalm, but we'll see that in this passage there are two distinct vantage points. There are two perspectives. Verses 1-13 gives us earth's perspective: how things look from down here. Then the last paragraph, beginning in verse 14, gives us God's perspective: how all of this looks from up there. We're given a glimpse into the heart and the ways of God. It's so important that we lift our eyes up and not just stay tuned in on our own perspective--because that will leave us depressed and discouraged and fearful--but that we lift our eyes up and see things from God's point of view.

The psalmist begins by asking a question. It's the "why" question. We're tempted at times of loss and tragedy and pain to ask "why?" "Why, O God, do you stand far off," he says. "Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" Why does it seem like when my world is crashing in on me, or when the world is crashing in on itself, that You are silent, that You're far away, that You're hiding Yourself?

Have you ever had times of your life where it seemed that God wasn't paying attention, that maybe He fell asleep on a switch. Now our theology tells us that's not true. But in our emotions, don't we sometimes feel that God is hiding Himself. He's playing hide-and-seek. He's uninvolved. Doesn't God care? Doesn't God care about thousands of people going to their death in a terrorist attack?. Or if He does care, is God powerless to do anything about it? Why doesn't God stop these things from happening?

Now beginning in verse 2 the psalmist gives us a description of the devastation that the wicked bring about in our world. In verse 2 it says, "In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises." Look at verses 9,10, "He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength."

This passage tells us that there are evil, wicked men. Now we know that. But there always have been. Since the Garden of Eden, there have been evil, wicked people. And these wicked people devise wicked schemes. They are, in fact, instruments of Satan himself, who is the master destroyer. Satan aims to kill, to destroy. He hates life because he hates God, who is the God of life.

Then the psalmist says there's another problem: Not only are there wicked people but it seems like they get away with their wickedness. So often in this world they seem to have the advantage, even though they are the ones disregarding God's laws. Look at verse 5, "His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies."

Verse 6, "He says to himself, 'Nothing will shake me; I'll always be happy and never have trouble.'" I mean, he just seems nonchalant about his evil.

Verse 11, "He says to himself, 'God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees.'" I mean, these are men who shake their fists in the face of God and say, in a sense, "God, if You're there, I dare You to come and do something about this."

Well, in verse 12 the psalmist makes a plea for God to act against the wicked and to help those who are helpless. He says, "Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless."

Then in verse 13 he asks the "why" question again: "Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, 'He won't call me to account'"? It's so easy to ask "why?"

I can remember at the funeral of someone who was very dear to me, a man getting up in the pulpit and saying it's not wrong to ask God "why?"--as long as we ask not with a clenched fist but with a searching heart. I think the psalmist is asking here with a searching heart--not expecting that God has to give us any answers. There are some answers we will not have this side of eternity. But he's saying, "Lord, I want to understand what You're up to. I'm appealing to You to do something, and it seems to me that You're not doing anything." That's the perspective from down here on earth.

But then in verse 14 he turns to a different perspective. He lifts his eyes up, though they may be filled with tears, and he says there's another vantage point; there's another point of view: it's a point of view from heaven. And the Scripture just gives us glimpses of the point of view from the throne room of heaven. In fact, in my Bible this psalm is titled "A Song of Confidence in God's Triumph Over Evil." How do we get from where the psalmist is in the first 13 verses where it seems that God is afar off, that God is not doing anything, that He's uninvolved, that He's hiding Himself...how do we go from that feeling to having confidence in God's triumph?

Well, the psalmist tells us in verse 14 God is not absent. God is not hiding Himself. We may not be able to see Him. His face may be obscured by clouds. But God is still there as surely as the sun is still there even on a cloudy day. He says in verse 14, "But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand." God sees. Then he says, "The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless." The psalmist is saying God does see. He does know. He will repay evil. He will vindicate righteousness.

And then the assurance of verse 16, and this is what we have to go back to over and over and over again. "The LORD is King for ever and ever." The Lord was King on September 11th...as surely as He was King on September the 10th...and as surely as He will be the King tomorrow, come what may, in your life, in your family, in your community, in this nation, or in our world. Our God reigns!

I discovered a verse last week from Psalm 29. It says, "The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood." Where was God when the floodwaters covered the earth in the days of Noah? The Lord was right where He has always been: on His throne. "The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood," and the verse goes on to say "the Lord sits as King forever."

The songwriter said it this way: "This Is My Father's World." This world doesn't belong to terrorists. This world doesn't belong to the kings and rulers and prime ministers and presidents of this world. It doesn't belong to the armies of the ones with the greatest military strength.

"This is my Father's world, O let me ne'er forget,
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet."

So he says in Psalm 10:16, "The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land."

And then verses 17, 18, "You hear, O LORD." Not only does God see...but He hears. "O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry. You defend the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more." God cares. God is involved. And there is a day coming, we have the promise here, that He will bring an end to all evil.

There will be no more terrorists. There will be no more ungodly people exalting themselves against God. Whether that wicked, evil person is someone who lives in your own home, someone you may be married to, someone who lives in your community, someone who has abused one of your children, whether that evildoer is a terrorist in another nation removed thousands of miles away from us--there is coming a day when men will terrify no more.

In the meantime, we have a God who sees, a God who cares, and a God who hears the cries of the afflicted, a God who is a helper to the fatherless, a God who ministers grace to the oppressed in times of need. So we sing. We sing a song of confidence in God's triumph over evil.

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss, reminding us that God is on His throne and will ultimately triumph over evil. She'll be back in just a minute to lead us in prayer.

If today's program has given you needed perspective, we invite you to get a copy. It's part of a special weeklong series called A Biblical Response to America's Tragedy. You can order the whole series on cassette for a suggested donation of $5. Just visit our Web site, ReviveOurHearts.com., or give us a call at 1-800-569-5959. We also have a CD available that will help provide comfort during times of fear. It's called Breath of God and it's available for a suggested donation of $15. Breath of God features Scriptures being read to a backdrop of soft music. It will remind you of the promises of God and fill your home with peace.

You know, we've all been thinking lately about the importance of bringing wrongdoers to justice. Tomorrow Nancy will talk about God's justice and the judgment that's to come. Now to lead us in prayer, here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: "Oh Father, sometimes we do ask 'why?' Why do You seem so far off? And why do You seem to hide from us in times of trouble? As we look into Your Word, our hearts are encouraged, because we know that even in the midst of floods--literal or figurative--You are King forever and ever. And so we say, 'Thank You, Lord; our trust is in You.' And thank You that You are fulfilling Your purposes in this world this day. In Jesus' name, Amen."

Leslie Basham: 

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