Advent 10: Psalm 19,20,21 & Isaiah 55

From Elad Vaida

I’ve always been jealous of the Psalmist.  He takes so much concrete pleasure in meditating on God and His Word.  God’s rules are “more to be desired than gold,” they are “sweeter also than honey.”  I would like to think of myself as humbly obedient to God’s Word, but I can’t honestly say I’m strong, or faithful enough, to consider God’s rules as better than gold. That’s understandable, I think, for all of us.  We should ideally hold unto God’s Word as the foremost treasure of our lives, but in reality the World ends up distracting us with a thousand other worthless idols.  The important thing to do is to realize the nature of our sin, and to pray for forgiveness, putting our trust in the Lord. 

While the Psalmist blesses us by wishing the Lord will “fulfill all your plans,” this does not mean that God owes us an easy life.  God wants us to know that our first and most important goal is to delight in Him and find pleasure in His Word.  The focus of our religious faith is not on us; it is on glorification of God.  Finding fulfillment and joy in our lives are just very happy side effects.  I always found psalms like number 20 and 21 to be very comforting because of this.  They are just such happy, energetic blessings that seem to speak directly to me, especially in times of trouble.  They remind me that God’s always there watching, and that I should maintain Him as my ultimate goal in life.  David’s words also remind me that God always turns everything to good in our lives:  even if I didn’t get that A+ I so craved on my paper, or didn’t get that new job offer, etc. etc., these things are mere peanuts in the long run, and God still has a much better purpose in mind for my life, even if I don’t know it. 

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts,” says the Lord through the Prophet Isaiah (Is. 55).  What a great summary of the Lord’s actions in our lives.  We always struggle with why God lets certain things happen in the world, whether those things are minor inconveniences in our day-to-day lives, or the terrible atrocities which seem to happen with depressing frequency lately, from the attacks on Paris, to the bombing in Lake Chad, to the recent massacre in California.  Philosophers and theologians have been grappling for centuries with the simple question:  Why?  Why would God let these things happen?  They’ve come up with so many theories on the nature of good and evil, and the problem of suffering.  But God has such a simple answer, summed up in a handful of lines:  my ways are not your ways.  We don’t have the big picture.  God does, and we just have to trust in Him and in His greater purpose. It really is as simple as that.  That message should come into focus this Advent season, now more than ever, as we focus on Christ’s promise, and not on the sufferings and distractions of this world.

I am currently finishing my Master’s Degree in Middle Eastern Studies in Harvard, and am applying for a Ph.D. in the history department.  My interests include reading, playing Chess, long walks on the beach, and discussing Austro-Hungarian foreign policy and other things no one really cares about.