Agonizing over the Lost
Today’s reading: Psalm 85-87; Romans 9
6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. Psalm 85:6-7
…I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. Romans 9:2b-3
Love for unbelieving friends and family members will drive the godly man or woman to great grief, but the best thing he or she can do is beseech the Lord who alone is able to revive the spiritually dead.
The Psalmist calls out to God for his nation to again experience the blessing of God. He remembers past days when they knew the Lord’s forgiveness and enjoyed His favor in the land. Now, that favor has been withdrawn. God is indignant with them. What can be done? The writer calls on the Lord for restoration. Only He can bring revival to the people. The Psalmist calls on God and he is confident in Him. He recognizes their foolishness, but he knows that God’s love and faithfulness are greater than the waywardness of His people.
Paul also agonizes over his people, Israel. He also sees them foolishly ignoring all that God had given them. Look at the list of blessings they have uniquely received:
4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. Romans 9:4-5
What have they done with what they have received? They have wasted it. They have turned away from their Messiah, who is God. Indeed, they crucified Him! Paul’s anguish is palpable. So much so that he would give up his own salvation if that would bring them to Christ. Of course, it would not, but we get the picture of the depth of his despair about the Jews.
What believer has not felt at least some level of despair over his or her unsaved loved ones? What can we do? Psalm 85 gives us the right approach in our prayer. Remember God’s blessings in the past. Confess any sins that need confessing in the present. Ask God for mercy and to revive those who are dead in their sins. Trust God to do what is right. Praise Him for His righteousness. Wait on Him. Repeat daily, as needed.