Monday, March 07, 2016

I shall never be shaken

 Philosophy Consoling Boethius and Fortune Turning the Wheel

Psalm 30 begins, like many Psalms, with praise to God for having saved the psalmist from danger, but in the middle is a stanza that caught my attention as especially relevant today.
I said to myself in my good fortune:
"I shall never be shaken."
O LORD, your favor had set me like a mountain stronghold.
Then you hid your face, and I was put to confusion.
This stanza struck me as describing a common problem among us middle class American Christians. We work to build a secure and comfortable life with a sound career path, happy family, and retirement plan. Although these are prudent goals to have, they are not the point of life, which is to grow in our love for God until it fills and directs our lives.

When we find ourselves in "good fortune," we must remember that it is God's favor that placed us there. There may come a time, however, when God decides it is better for us that he hide his face, removing us from that state of good fortune. It may be because we had a false confidence in our circumstances that led us to believe: "I shall never be shaken."

The financial crash of 2008 caught many people off guard. The American Dream that I grew up with has evaporated for many of us, but was that dream ever the plan of God for his children? I believe that God has blessed this country, but that doesn't mean that the pursuit of material prosperity should be our life plan. Unfortunately, many people have forgotten that and are now willing to follow anyone who appears to be able to restore that American Dream, no matter how shady he is.

I believe that as a country, we will soon experience hardships that are unprecedented in my lifetime. If that happens, we must follow the example of the psalmist, crying out to the Lord in humility, seeking his ways and his goals for our lives. We must praise him with rejoicing, knowing that he is working all things for the good of those who love him. That is, he is leading those who follow him to eternal life.

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