"Houston, we have a problem," is a slight misquote of cool-headed Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert's report to mission control in 1970 about a crippling explosion on their spacecraft flying to the moon. It soon entered our vernacular to suggest a major understatement when there's a major problem.
Yes, fellow humans, we do have a problem. A rather serious problem. Actually, many, many problems. Political problems. Social problems. Moral problems. Crime problems. Military problems. Sexual problems. Financial problems. Health problems. Natural problems. Unnatural problems. Problems upon problems! Problems that defy human solutions. For sure. As David says in his timeless reflection, the biggest problem is the underlying problem: We have turned away from God. Some, cuz they just don't believe. Others, have simply wandered off the way. David nails it:
1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
4 Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the Lord. 5 But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous. 6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.
7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! (ESV)
The population in 539 B.C. was quite a bit lower than it is now, but all is all. David might have been exaggerating to make his point, but the point is clear. A lot of people have turned away, are corrupt, and doing wrong. Evil even. They oppress and derail the poor, a recurring theme of great concern to God.
Yet, nobody is looking to God for the answers and for remedies to our problems. Nobody asks themselves if that's the very reason we have the problems we have.
Wait a minute! Was this written in 539 B.C. or yesterday?
The Psalms--and all of Scripture--remind us who we are. Our propensity to ignore or forget God, or relegate Him to Sunday, to go our own way, to make a hot mess of things. Scripture also tells us that God lets us do all that and allows us to suffer the ever-increasing consequences until we come to our senses and return to Him.
In America in particular, our prosperity and relative isolation can make us comfortably complacent and indifferent to the suffering of others. God is not.
This is an individual and collective reality. History testifies.
Still, God is the witness who sees all and will restore rightness, one way or another. Unlike humans, He does have the ability to do it. History testifies to that, too.
The Apollo 13 astronauts made it home safely. You can, too. You can cry out to Christ and be saved. Let's re/turn to Him, confess our failings, and ask for His aid. Like any good father, He loves us and wants to help.
Help us, Abba Father!
Love, grace, peace, and joy in Christ,
Prayer: Father, it's a mess down here. Please forgive us for our part and help us to return to You. We need Your help and healing! Thank You for Jesus, who restores us to You and enables us to come boldly before Your throne of grace to ask for your help like little kids in a jam. In Christ's name, Amen.
Action: The Jewish New Year holiday of Rosh Hashana (9/25-9/27) marks the beginning of a 10-day period of reflection and repentance leading to Yom Kippur (10/4), the day of atonement.
In light of our Jewish roots, consider journaling highlights of the past year. Then take the 10-day period leading up to Yom Kippur to honestly reflect on your sins and seek God's forgiveness, help, and healing. If you need a little prompting to reflect on your failings, you can use the seven deadly sins: Pride, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, sloth, and wrath. There are more, of course, but that's a fine start. For Christians, this is also a great opportunity to reflect anew on the fact that Christ died for all of it!
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