All the News Headlines report the same thing: Boko Haram is close to being completely routed out by armed forces!
In a favorable turn of events, the Nigerian military, as well as armies from other nearby nations, have “[taken] back ground from the insurgents,” and rescued thousands of captives (source). Prayers have been visibly answered. Lives have been saved. In such a time as this, it seems that all there is to do is celebrate.
But, in the midst of it all, there is still unrest, pain, and fear.
The Chibok girls, each one of those 218 precious, remaining young women, are still missing, with little to no new reports on their whereabouts– something that, though they have achieved much elsewhere, the Nigerian military has failed at doing, to this day.
Displaced peoples are hesitant to move back to their homes, and rightly so. The past, and ongoing, warfare occurring in Northern Nigeria has many families scared that their homes will never be safe, again. Places that were once considered sanctuaries for the displaced, otherwise known as IDP camps, have been investigated in cases involving violence; and, sadly, tens of thousands have gone without proper nourishment– though Christ has provided thousands of tons of food for many, many people, in recent days.
The damage done during the past seven years of the Boko Haram insurgency may take a lifetime to truly “recover” from, if Christ tarries in coming back. While Boko Haram, at its core, is based on an ideology– and therefore, will never totally “disappear”– it is safe, and amazing, to say, that it is closer than ever to becoming something much less harmful than it once was.
Yet, what seems like (almost) the end of one era, an era of pain, violence, and death, is just the beginning of another; another with major unfinished business, as it pertains to the Chibok girls. The long road to healing, for so many nations in West Africa that have been touched by such tragedy, seems arduous– and may be strewn with issues, both internally and internationally, that must be faced head-on, such as finding, and rescuing, the Chibok girls.
With such a horrible past, somewhat-encouraging present, and unknown future, Nigeria– and the nations surrounding it– need something, Someone, to stand upon.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.”
(Psalm 33:12, NIV)
Psalm 33 is an encouraging Psalm, pointing to whom, or what, to trust in, in every circumstance: Jesus Christ. As verse 12 states, the nation “whose God is the Lord” is blessed. But, why, exactly?
The “nation whose God is the Lord” is blessed because of who the Lord is. So many times, nations get caught up in themselves, pointing to power, prestige, and money for confidence, as a nation. Though these things are not little carved images, as was the idols of the ancients, they are idols people in the modern world worship daily. Psalm 33 puts all of these idols to shame, by declaring what the One, True, Living God is like.
“4 For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. 5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. 6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. …16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. 18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.”
(Psalm 33: 4-9, 17-19, NIV)
At the core of it all, Christ is the One, True, Living God, as spoken about in a past blog post. Not only is He the One, True, Living God; He is a God who cares about humanity, and, for all those who trust in Him, He gives amazing safety.
Not only does Christ give those who trust in Him safety; He leads and guides their very steps. This, more than anything, is what a nation needs, if it is to have a prosperous future. For those who turn to, and trust in Jesus, their every step is led, guided, and protected by Him, as Psalm 32 declares. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (Psalm 32:8, NIV).
Encouragement for trusting the One and Only Almighty God is also found in Psalm 32. In fact, Psalm 33 is closely related to Psalm 32, the Psalm that immediately precedes it; and, while Psalm 33 primarily focuses on a whole nation, Psalm 32 focuses on one, individual person– specifically, King David. In this Psalm, King David describes how he kept his sin “hidden,” or unconfessed from Christ, and the turmoil that ensued (Psalm 32:3-4). But, the joy David has, as he finally confesses his sin to God, and asks forgiveness, is clearly seen in the rest of the Psalm.
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
…Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!”
(Psalm 33:5, 11, NIV)
This turning to the Lord is marked with a change in mood: not only is David relieved that he has come clean to Christ; he is also marked with a repentant heart and mind: with a newfound trust in Christ, alone, for his safety.
While it has not been confirmed that Psalms 32 and 33 were originally written together, or as one Psalm, the theme of Psalm 32 definitely carries over into Psalm 33 (Barnes’ Notes Commentary; source). Starting in the heart of one man, in Psalm 32, the same sentiments of turning to/trusting in Christ as a nation is noted all throughout Psalm 33.
This is noted, because, as revealed in God’s Word, to begin changing an entire nation towards trusting Christ, there must be a heart, and life change, in each individual person in that nation, first. Truly, it starts in the heart, and from there, revival starts like a raging fire.
The blessings found in receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, and repenting of all sin, can only occur when one person accepts Jesus’ invitation to a Personal, Saving, Abundant-life-filled relationship with Him. A country cannot be saved by a powerful military, shrewd leaders, or even by “being good.” Only Christ can save a person from themselves. How much more, a nation of people!
In every situation, Jesus Christ is the solid rock one must stand on. As the Chibok schoolgirls remain missing, and the future remains unknown, let us pray that all people– specifically, the people of Nigeria, and West Africa– come to know, worship, and rely on the One, True, Living God. He alone is worthy!
Do you know Jesus?
“For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”
(Psalm 33:4-5, NIV)
It is said that the Cross describes God, perfectly.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT). Because God loves Righteousness, and Justice, He can not merely “sweep our sin under the carpet,” no matter how “small” or “innocent” it is (Habakkuk 1:13).
This is because all sin separates us, from a completely Holy, Righteous God; and, as Romans 6:23 says, the wage for all sin, is death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Even if the sin itself does not directly result in physical death, the curse of sin itself results in the death of a relationship with God, which results in death of every other kind: death of relationships with others, pain, and, ultimately, death of the physical body.
This death, this sin, was to be covered by the blood of a spotless animal “without defect” (Leviticus 17:1, 11). But because “God so loved the world,” He wanted to have mercy on us: we separated ourselves from Him, but He, in perfect Love, could not just “give us what we deserve” (John 3:16). No. Instead, He sacrificed the Ultimate offering for our sin: Himself.
This is where the second part of Romans 6:23 comes in. God the Son, Jesus Christ, came to the world, and died for the sins of all mankind (2 Corinthians 5:14-17; for more on the trinity, click here). A Righteous, Holy God, came to die for sinful man, so that their sin might not only be covered, as with animal blood, but done away with, completely (1 John 3:4-6).
God the Father gave “eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). For all those who trust in Christ, now, and receive this completely free gift of eternal life, the wrath of God is no longer on them: instead, they enter into an intimate, Love-based, Saving relationship with the God who Loved them first (1 Thessalonians 5:9; 1 John 4:19).
Learn more about this God, our problem of sin, the Love He has for you– and how He showed this Ultimate Love– here.
Please pray for…
– The Chibok girls. As of the day this post is published, the Chibok girls have been in captivity for 834 days, and counting, despite Boko Haram being run out of their strongholds. Please pray that Jesus would continue to take care of the Chibok girls, and would release them in His will, way, and timing– asking that it would be soon.
– The Nigerian military. Praise Jesus for their recent victories! Please pray that they would continue to fight honorably, and that Christ would continue to embolden, strengthen, and give favor to them.
– Boko Haram. Please pray that these men, women, and children would be freed by Christ, and would see this sick ideology for what it is. Pray they would come to know Jesus, and be set free, indeed– “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36, NIV).
– Those who are displaced, wounded, and grieving. Please pray Christ would hold them, and lift their heads high (Psalm 34:18; Psalm 3:3). Please pray they would let Him.
– The aid of those in Northern Nigeria. Please continue to pray that those in Northern Nigeria would continue to find relief through both humanitarian aid, and other means. Please also pray for those who cannot get aid, because of their location; pray that Christ would show His faithfulness to them, and that they would know Him.
– Revival, in Nigeria, as a whole. Please be praying that, just like David, the individuals of Nigeria would turn towards Christ– and that they would seek Him, in never-before-seen ways, and that it would spread like wildfire to Boko Haram and muslims, those who need it the most.
Thank you for your continued prayers! 🙂