Your word, Lord, is eternal;(Ps. 119:89-96 NIV)
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.
Save me, for I am yours;
I have sought out your precepts.
The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
but I will ponder your statutes.
To all perfection I see a limit,
but your commands are boundless.
The government today is coming under increasing criticism because it keeps changing the rules on lockdown. The opposition claims this shows incompetence, using phrases like, ‘they need to get a grip’. What would competence in the face of dealing with a new worldwide pandemic look like, and how would you know you ‘had a grip’? It is unfair to expect omnicompetence from any government. It all shows how human we are. Sadly, it also brings out the grumbling against leaders in us – even Moses, ‘the meekest man in all the earth,’ had the people grumbling against him.
We make decisions based on the limited knowledge we have, and we try to make the choice that will do the least damage. Contrast this with the Lord in heaven. God’s word is eternal, it stands firm in the heavens. The Lord did not have to put out a new revision of His word because of the pandemic. God knows the end from the beginning and every small step in between; He knows every tiny step in your life and every tiny step in my life. God’s faithfulness is constant and continues through all generations because God is never taken by surprise. Our Prime minister had desired the job of leading the Government, and we shouldn’t fault him for that, he had great plans for the country. If you had followed his time as editor of the Spectator, and columnist of the Daily Telegraph you would understand the direction of travel he desired to take. He landed the job and then called an election and was given a great majority. Surely, he thought he could make changes to level up the wealth across the nation. Then the pandemic occurred, and all his plans had to change. Prime minster Johnson’s biography of Winston Churchill is a fascinating read and at times quite humorous, and the reader is left in no doubt that prime minister Johnson sees himself in that role. Time will yet tell the impact that the Prime minister’s brush with death will have upon him. We’ve just learned that President Trump has the virus and how might that derail his plans to stand for president again.
Many things can happen in life to deflect us from our planned course of action. However, nothing can deflect the Lord from his course of action. God’s word is enduring right to this day because everything serves the Lord. Ungodly leaders ultimately serve the purposes of the Lord. The pandemic poses no threat to the word of God because the pandemic serves the Lord. That is as far as any can go in describing what the pandemic is doing. God may be using it to achieve one thing in this part of the world and using it to achieve something different in another part of the world. The one unchanging thing in our life is that the word of God remains the same, it endures forever. The promises God made to Abraham remain true and unchangeable to us today.
If the Psalmist had not delighted in the word of God, he would have perished. The world around him was changing at a rapid pace, he just couldn’t keep up. But his hope was not in the ever changing circumstances around him, it was in the word of God. A great source of our disappointment is that things don’t turn out the way that we would have wished. I’m reading quite a sad but still compelling book, (I’ve referred to it already in a previous meditation). The old man is soon to die, and he is writing to his son, who will be given the letter to read when he is older. The old man had lost his first wife and child soon after they were married. He waited for years and then married a much younger woman and they had a son. The old man laments that he will never live to see his wife grow old, or his son grow old. The old man is still enjoying life and is describing every little thing that happens, but he is not in control of what happens or for how long it is going to continue happening for him. That is true for us all. The only thing guaranteed in our life is that the word of God will not change.
Looking back over life we can see how the Lord preserved our lives. When we would have rushed in, somehow we were held back. The Lord promises to be with us and there have been many times when God was there doing things, making things happen, preventing things from happening, sheltering us, shielding us. Then when things did go wrong because of our stubbornness, God was merciful, because of His unfailing love towards us.
As we look forward in life we cry out with the Psalmist, and like Peter, ‘Lord save me.’ Why should we expect to be saved? Because God promised in His word to save us and we have trusted His word.
It is not just the changing of general events in the world that the Psalmist has to cope with. There are people who have specifically targeted him to bring him down, to spoil his joy, to lie against him and to prevent him from serving the Lord. This will not stop the Psalmist pondering, exploring and meditating upon the word of God. The plans of people may derail us for a while, but God has a part for each of us to play and God will achieve His purpose for us, through us and by us.
There is a limit to even what we rate as perfection around us, but the word of the Lord knows no such limits. The word of God is not limited by your faith, by your walk before the Lord, nor the opposition of the ungodly. The word of the Lord endures forever.
Faithful One, So unchanging:
Eternal, unchanging God, we place our hope only in You. Lord as the circumstances change around us, help us to trust You and the unchanging promises that You have given in Your word. Help us to embrace the fact that Your unfailing love surrounds us today and every day that lies ahead. Lord we have put our hopes in many different things and they have let us down, but Your word has never failed. Lord Your word is not bound by our ability to grasp it. Teach us by Your Holy Spirit to lay hold of Your word and hide that word within our hearts because we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.