“But when I sought to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” Psalm 73:16-17
The Price Of Overexposure
We live in an age of round-the-clock news. Technological advances have introduced us to the 24-hour news cycle. Just pick up your iPhone, and you’ll be bombarded by the terror and triviality of our fallen world via Twitter, RSS Feeds, news sites, blogs, Facebook, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam. The outlets at our disposal are virtually endless.
We can read an op-ed piece about a religious liberty crisis here and watch live coverage about a terrorist attack there, all while being thoroughly outraged by so-and-so’s remarks about the latest political scandal—every hour on the hour.
Now, on its own, the world’s brokenness can be abrasively overwhelming. But our overexposure to news media serves to intensify our bewilderment. We can only handle so many negative headlines before they begin to take their emotional, psychological, and spiritual toll. Cynicism and fear so easily creep in, making it difficult to see how the future could possibly be in the loving hands of a God who is wise, sovereign, and good.
It is precisely at this point that we must ask a crucial question, What should we do when we’re overwhelmed by the world’s brokenness? As disciples of the living and reigning Christ, we are to approach this question in a manner that is distinct from the world around us. There’s a better way to think about the headlines and Psalm 73:16-17 (quoted above) can show us what it is.
Finding Something to Grab Hold Of
Psalm 73 was written on the threshold of despair. The psalmist looks on as the faithless prosper, the violent succeed, and the greedy advance. In fact, he says, “My feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. […] All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.” (vv. 2-3, 13). As he observes the reprehensible state of the world, he’s at his wits’ end. It seems like he’s going to be overcome by anguish.
But it doesn’t happen.
Note: he almost slips. He almost stumbles. But then he gets his footing. He finds something to grab hold of. How? As surprising as it may seem, by going to church.
Just as he’s about to give up on trying to understand how a good God could allow so much evil in the world, the psalmist goes to the sanctuary where God’s people assemble to worship together. He arrived there weary and perplexed, yet left confident in the all-sufficient power of God in Christ.
For us, this is a striking reminder that Christians don’t let the media’s grim headlines drive us to despair, nor do we pretend the world’s problems don’t exist. Instead, we gather with God’s people as often as we can to behold King Jesus and hear His News Story.
This is why Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” In other words, it’s through the ingathering of His people that God strengthens and encourages us to live in light of the Day on which He will make every sad thing come untrue.
This Sunday, Christ in me will meet with Christ in you to remind each of us that our future is incredibly bright. This is a gift from God. It’s a Good-News oasis smack-dab in the middle of a bad-news world. Therefore, we should do what we can to make the most of it. So let’s show up with an eager expectancy, desiring for God to meet with us in a powerful way. And let’s remind one another of the hope we have in Jesus—a hope that nothing can take from us no matter what the headlines say.
Liturgy for Sunday, December 13, 2015:
Call to Worship: Matthew 1:18-23
Confession & Assurance: Psalm 73:21-28
Benediction: 2 Peter 1:2