Strength and Peace

Reading: Psalm 29
The other day four lightly-armed Australian SAS soldiers were on patrol in Afghanistan, trying to locate a terrorist stronghold. A force of possibly seventy Taliban soldiers spotted them and attacked with rockets and grenades. The Australians called for help and were rescued in a fierce five-hour battle. None of them was lost.

The late Mao Tse Tung, long-time chairman of the communist regime in China, once said that "power comes out of the barrel of a gun." Power has often been measured by military might. The old Soviet Union used public occasions for a display of the latest weaponry. During the Cold War we wondered which super-power "had the edge." Thankfully, both Russia and U.S.A. have recently committed themslves to a drastic reduction of nuclear arsenals.

Large global corporations wield a different kind of power to crush their opposition. We can feel ourselves to be very small pawns in an economic contest that has seen the bankruptcy of some very large players - as well as amalgamations and mergers that swallow up the smaller ones.

It is thought that David may have written Psalm 29 after witnessing an awesome storm moving across the lands to the north of Israel. The people of some other nations saw such a storm as the work of some pagan god. Not so David. The Lord alone created the world by his word. Now David hears, not just the rumbling thunder, but "the voice of the Lord" in this storm.

"The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever" (v. 10).

The storm has reminded David that the Lord is King forever. We forget that at our peril. The events of last September 11 raised a measure of uncertainty which the "war on terrorism" hasnít yet completely dispelled. Destructive power has been unleashed. Who can rein it in?

If the Lord is King forever, why doesnít he just stop all this conflict and violence? Why the crushing of the Jewish nation nearly two thousand years ago and the persecution of Jews in so many countries? Why the holocaust? Why the present Jewish-Palestinian conflict? Why al-Qaeda and September 11?...

But grace doesnít operate in that way! God has given us freedom to choose and respond, and that brings consequences. We all face a range of consequences - our own and those imposed on us by the actions of others. Remove all those possibilites and we cease to be human.

But notice verse 11 - "The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace."

The same God whose glory and strength David witnessed in nature is a God of love and grace. He reaches out to all people. Those who respond to him in faith and become "his people" receive both strength and peace - strength in their circumstances and inner peace, no matter what else may happen to them.

Many things happen to us and around us - things that we wish could be otherwise. Godís strength and peace equip us to live each day.

Prayer: Father God, we live in a troubled world, so much of it shaped by forces outside our control. It is so easy to slip into anxiety and fear. Help us to remember it is still your world. Help us to receive your strength to live each day, and your peace within, no matter what may happen to us. Help us to minister your strength and peace to others this day. In Jesusí name, Amen.

Strength and Peace

We love
our peace
and comfort -
settle down,
pride ourselves
in all we do.

Then comes
another
with might
and power,
seeking
by hate
and terror
to steal our peace.

Sometimes
in love,
God sends
drought
or flood,
storm
or cyclone -
stirring
our memory
we are not alone,
autonomous,
isolated
from him.

Lord,
prick
our self-sufficiency,
and grant us
strength
and peace.


© Peter J. Blackburn, Burdekin BlueCare Devotions, 21 May 2002.
Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, © International Bible Society, 1984.

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