The Bottom Line in a Crisis of Faith

This morning I was reminded in 1Corinthians 13 that “now we see in a mirror dimly” and only “know in part.” If that’s true of us who have the inspired Word and the indwelling Spirit, how much more was that the case for the ancient songwriter, Ethan the Ezrahite?

As I mull over Psalm 89 it seems possible it was written around the time of the captivity. I can imagine Ethan standing amidst the razed, smoldering ruins of Jerusalem and wondering:

How long, O LORD? Will you hide Yourself forever? How long will Your wrath burn like fire?

(Psalm 89:46)

The breached walls, the ruined stronghold, the absolute decimated defeat before their enemies–it didn’t make sense. (89:40-42)

Ethan reminds himself of the Person of God. He replays in his mind, over and over again, who God is. The God of steadfast love and faithfulness. The God greatly feared in the council of heavenly holy ones. The God who created and who rules over all the earth. The God whose throne is built on the foundation of righteousness and justice. (89:5-14)

And he also recounts the Promises of God.

You have said, “I have made a covenant with My chosen one; I have sworn to David My servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.'”    Selah

(Psalm 89:3-4 ESV)

God had said His faithfulness and steadfast love would be with David. That in Him David’s kingdom would be exalted, the highest of kingdoms on earth, kept forever. God had promised that He would not remove His steadfast love nor be false to His faithfulness. That He would not violate His covenant, nor alter the words that went forth from His lips. Once for all He had sworn. He would not, He could not lie to David. David’s offspring would endure forever. (89:33-34)

“So what happened?” Ethan thinks to himself.

Lord, where is Your steadfast love of old, which by Your faithfulness You swore to David?

(Psalm 89:49 ESV)

Nothing Ethan had experienced pointed toward a forever throne. He couldn’t imagine a future scenario that even hinted of a glorious king sitting again on a glorious throne. Nothing he could see fanned the flames of the hope promised of a blessed people who knew “the festal shout” and walked in the light of the face of the LORD of heaven and earth. Nothing! Nada! Nil!

Ethan knew in part–the Person and the promises. But he only saw in a mirror dimly. He only saw the problem. Ethan the songwriter was experiencing a crisis of faith.

But on this side of the cross, we’ve seen the fulfillment of the promises in Jesus. Descended through Joseph, ascended by Mary, He is the Chosen One, the son of David, the King forever. Ruling through proxy today, His kingdom is being established on earth through His people. But in a day soon to come, ruling in person. A day when every knee will bow “in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Php. 2:10-11).

Who can’t relate to a crisis of faith? When what you believe to be true isn’t playing out how you thought it would. When what you know and what you feel are at odds with one another?

But here’s the bottom line for Ethan . . . and for me as I chew on his song this morning . . .

Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.

(Psalm 89:52 ESV)

What Ethan knew trumped what he didn’t know. What he believed anchored that which he could not see. The Person, and the promises, became the context for dealing with the problem.

When all is said and done, even when we can’t make sense of how what was said lines up with what was done, in our crisis of faith we too, with the songwriter, can declare, and must declare:

Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.

By His grace. For His glory.

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