Giving thanks in times of trouble. (When you need God’s justice.)

Each day has it’s own trouble. Our worries could come true, our fears take form. Yet, I think it is only those who can look over the landscape of their troubles and put a name to them who can personally plead for vindication.

It goes from, “Why is this happening to me?” (anxiety over circumstances) to “Lord, be my Protector, Provider, and Strength. You are my Justice.” It becomes personal. It begins with a twinge of moralism — since I’ve lived such a “good” life why has this bad come my way? — and leads through confession to redemption. I think it is harder to confess our faults when a clear enemy is out there hoping for our downfall. When we think we are in the right and cannot see our contribution to the problem.

When your troubles have a name — an enemy in flesh and blood — and you pour out your whole heart to God, you can miraculously shift from being mad at your enemy to being mad for them.

This only happens through the Grace of God, and it doesn’t just “happen.” Jesus is the Grace of God in human form. He loved His enemies to the end, not being mad at them, but being mad for them. (“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”)

Through confession and repentance and then trust in God’s ultimate judgment, we can suspend our hatred for the other, while still asking God to bring about justice. This isn’t a weak gesture or folding under pressure, lacking courage. This is ultimate courage, because it’s giving up control. When we give up control of our lives — and of our enemies — to God the only real Judge, we can begin to give thanks to Him with our whole hearts. There’s nothing weak or passive about this. It takes great courage to find pleasure in God, expressing this joy in words, while arrows are blazing past your head. Yet I think only then are we truly safe and secure, in His hands.

There will still be justice, just not on our terms or in our timing. No injustice, no matter how big or small, will go unpunished in the end. It will fall upon the perpetrator, or on the shoulders of God’s Son, who took our place. He is why we can give thanks in times of trouble.

Let the words of Psalm 9 wash over your soul. Make them yours.

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before your presence.
For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.

You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
their cities you rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.

But the Lord sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with uprightness.

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

Be gracious to me, O Lord!
See my affliction from those who hate me,
O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
that I may recount all your praises,
that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in your salvation.
—Psalm 9:1-14 (ESV)