A Public Faith

Psalm 67-69

When we are sloughing through the mud and mire of difficult circumstances, when we feel as though the troubles of life are about to pull us under and drown us in despair and depression, what's the first thing that comes to mind?

Aside from calling for help from God, which should be our first step, what follows?

David's words in Psalm 69 intrigued me this morning. The sweet singer of Israel is up to his eyeballs in difficulties. It doesn't appear that his troubles are the result of his sin though he is quick to acknowledge that even in the best of circumstances, he's not perfect (vs. 5).

What is obvious is that David is being badly treated for all the right reasons. He is hated because he is doing what he knows the Lord wants of him. He's called for relief, but God is holding off sending the cavalry for the moment.

What caught my attention the most in this psalm was David's concern for those other God-followers who might be watching his struggles. He writes:

"May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the Lord Almighty; may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me, O God of Israel" (vs. 6 NIV).

There are several possible scenarios here but what first came to my mind was that David was concerned that he maintain a good testimony, a right attitude, in all these trials. He didn't want others to be embarrassed by any failure, weakness, or sin committed by him as he handled the circumstances of his life. He didn't want to discourage anyone who was seeking God to be put off by his performance under pressure.

It's popular today for people to say that their faith is a private matter. That turns out to be a convenient excuse for absolving ourselves of any responsibility for the impact our behaviour might have on other people. For faith to fulfill its mission in the world, it has to be public. "You will be my witnesses" said Jesus as his commissioned his followers to carry his Gospel to the world in Acts 1:8 NIV. And unless our mouths line up with our motions, that witness will be tainted.

David knew that, and prayed to God that in the midst of the most terrible of trials he would not fail to be a faithful witness. It's a worthy goal to seek to reach for all of us.

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