The Psalter of Jesus: Red in the Face // Psalm 44
For people of faith, the seeming inaction of God amid our trouble is humiliating. The one we have trusted and heralded and staked our reputation to can seem to leave us flapping in the wind. In such moments, those who would deride our faith are given ammunition to snicker under their breath or even openly mock us. Being a Christian can be quite embarrassing. And the current trajectory of our Western culture indicates there will be greater embarrassments to come. Yet these dreadful incidents, when our faces blush and our heads droop, are not what they seem. God's apparent absence is nothing of the sort. He is profoundly present in our embarrassment. In fact, the place of embarrassment is where he daily lives. No one is more derided, snickered at, or mocked than our God. We see that historically in the life and death of Jesus. And we witness it firsthand when people in our day scoff at God's power or love. "He cannot save himself," they sneered at Jesus on the cross. "He must be weak or not care," they say dismissively of God today. The life of faith steps into that same place of being ridiculed alongside our God. Jesus came to bear human shame with us, so that we all might bear divine humiliation with him.
CALL TO WORSHIP
We are those you’ve gathered, the very ones you’ve delighted in and rescued. We gaze at what you’ve done in the past, longing to believe you have not changed.
In God we will boast all the day, for we have heard of the goodness you have manifested towards our fathers.
With your own hand you drove out the nations to preserve and increase the progeny of Abraham.
In God we will boast all the day, for they trusted not in their sword but in you alone to deliver them.
You alone can rise up to help us.
In God we will boast all the day, for only you can redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.
Let us give thanks to your name forever!
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Father, your ways are strange to us. You plant faith in us through the very things we fight to avoid.
Yet you are sovereign and wise, knowing how best to sustain faith within us. Forgive us for insisting that you meet us on our terms.
We've tightened our grip on stories of old. We often would rather dwell on sweet memories of you than receive the trying places you have us now.
Yet you are immutable and faithful. Forgive us for fixating on how others' view our faith. Lead us to fix our eyes on you.
By your will, Father, your Son faced the cross. We confess, we often stand with those who called him to come down and saved himself. We'd prefer a savior who would lead us around humiliation, not through it.
Yet you are our true Savior, Lord. You endured the shame of the cross, trusting your Father even as you bore forsakenness and death. Now lead us in that life of trust.
Lord, Meet us in the foolishness of this Christian faith. And bear the embarrassment we cannot. For you have taught us that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame. Amen.