Now that I’m a parent, I realize why my own parents were so crazy when I was little. We drove them crazy. Unlike many in Christendom, I don’t buy into the concept of original sin… but my kids sometimes make me second-guess myself. Kids seem to look for opportunities to make you crazy–messing up a room you just cleaned up, drawing on freshly painted walls, spilling drinks on new carpet (which you expressly warned them not to walk on when they had drinks), and an assortment of other things.
Sometimes, grown-ups are nothing more than big kids. We look for opportunities to do things that drive our Heavenly Father crazy.
We look for opportunities to sin.
The impulse buy that will drive up our debt and discourage generosity. The time alone in front of the computer when no one is around. The person who cuts you off in traffic. All of these are opportunities to sin. Sometimes, they pop up without warning. Sometimes, we go looking for them.
The author of Psalm 125 gives us a reason for why followers of God sometimes sin: oppression. Look what he writes in Psalm 125:3,
For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the righteous; that the righteous may not put for their hands to do wrong.
The thought of the psalm is that aggressive foreign nations won’t brutalize Israel forever. God would deliver them. Here’s the thing: God’s timing isn’t always our timing. What we think of as forever is simply a blink of an eye to God. In the Old Testament, God allowed foreign nations to oppress Israel for years, sometimes decades. The reason He allowed this top happen was to get the attention of those who weren’t following Him. But God also knows that oppression can lead righteous people to react sinfully. He alone is good; He alone knows what righteous people can endure.
Recently, I’ve been going through a tough spiritual time. I’ve realized that while my leadership for our church network has been good, it hasn’t been what it should be for my own microchurch. God has convicted me of things that I need to change and repent of. Is it the same as a foreign power oppressing a country? No. But I also know how the devil pushes my buttons–when I get stressed, I tend to lapse into sin. Struggle is good. Wrestling with sin is necessary. God knows what I can handle. He’s allowing me to undergo some discipline so that I can repent.
But what about when times are tough for no apparent reason? We live in a messed up, dark, and sinful world. People suffer, even the faithful. God knows this. His heart breaks for the oppressed. He knows their breaking point. He knows the perfect time to rescue them.
No matter what situation we are in–oppression due to our own sin, or just getting smacked around by life in a sinful world–God knows our stress, our sin, and our limits. May we trust in Him for deliverance, even if it doesn’t come when our how we think it should. After all, He is God and we are not.
Thank God for that.