3/7/24 Lent Psalm 74 

3/7/24 Lent Psalm 74 


I was turkey hunting with a friend on my sister’s farm just outside of Ashland City, Tennessee a couple of years ago. We were dressed completely in camouflage, sitting under a tree in the gray light of early morning. I was doing my very best turkey call and a gobbler was answering back from the next ridge over. It was about to be a good day. 

We heard something walking through the dry, early spring leaves toward us. In a few seconds we could make out a pretty good size, black shape coming through the undergrowth. My friend whispered, “It’s a bear.” 

Now, let’s pause this story to bring you non-Tennessee, non-outdoorsy friends up to speed. In spite of what you might believe about the backwoods, redneck hills and hollers of Tennessee, there are not bears around every corner. And in fact, there are almost NO bears in our part of middle-Tennessee. (There have been some reported black bear sightings of late in our area, but they are very rare and not really confirmed.) At the very least, there are NO bears on my sister’s farm just outside of Ashland City. But… 

Back to the story, my friend whispered again in an even more panicked and convincing voice, “Oh my goodness, that is a bear coming right at us.” I refer you to the paragraph above. I KNOW that is true, the NO bear part. But it did kind of look like a bear. My little brain began to see BEAR. Then, a funny feeling crept into my belly, I was a little bit afraid. Okay, let me be honest, I was skeered to death. Again, for my non-outdoorsy friends, the stuff you use to hunt turkeys would be of no use to fend off a bear. My fear took over my thinking and I began to believe for sure this was a bear. I looked over and sized up my hunting buddy to make sure I was faster than him, so I could leave him to the bear. 

Just about the time I was ready to tell my friend, “Okay, in Jesus’s name, you are on your own,” the huge black beast stepped out of the shadows, and I recognized the neighbor’s mutt dog. And instead, I quickly said to my friend, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” True story, except for the “leave you or forsake you” part. 

Psalm 74. Asaph says, “It doesn’t look good, God. It looks like you have rejected us.” What he thinks he sees produces fear, frustration, and faith disappears. He starts reminding God, as if God needs reminding, of what the enemies were doing to them and how alone and abandoned the Children of Israel were feeling. In verse 9 he says, “We are given no signs from God, no prophets are left, and none of us know how long this will be.” Ever felt like that? Things look bleak and you begin to tell yourself that God is either not good or not great? The medical report is not good. The wayward kid has not called in a year. The church attendance is declining with no change in sight. And what we are seeing around us produces feelings in us that begin to dictate what we believe about us. 

Well, tomorrow we will look at Psalm 75. For now, let me just say it starts with, “We praise you God; we praise You for Your Name is near.” Obviously, what Asaph was feeling and believing in Psalm 74 was not true.  

So, here’s the lesson in 4 simple steps. 

What you see may not be accurate, but it will impact how you feel. 

How you feel is not the best gauge of things, but it can affect what you believe. 

What you believe is subject to your state of mind, but it does NOT determine what is true.  

What is real, no matter what we feel or think, is ALWAYS God’s decision, not ours. 

Listen, no matter what seems to be going on around you, God is still large and in charge. He still loves you with an everlasting love. He still has your best interest at heart. And He still works all things together for good. That’s why Paul says, “We don’t focus on what we see but what we do not see. For what we see is temporary but what we do not see is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 

God decides what is real, not my feelings or fears. And most of the time that bear in the woods is the neighbor’s poodle. 

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