There’s been so much to give thanks for from EMA 2012 so far. Day 1 began with a wonderful exposition of Psalm 55 from Christopher Ash focusing our hearts on Christ as we began the conference. Sometimes we’re unsure how to sing the Old Testament psalms as those looking back at them now saved through Christ. It was a joy to have this psalm opened up in such a manner that we knew the tune of its very real anguish at the surrounding deluge of sin and despair, yet we were also called to sing it chiefly through Christ, knowing it’s a song He fulfilled, and that we now sing as those united to Him through faith.

Rather than just type up my notes from this, I thought I’d try something different. I’ve always been encouraged by reading Scotty Smith’s prayers, and so I’ve sought to pray through Christopher’s exposition of the psalm in a similar way, carving out and jotting down a sort of written meditation.

v1-8 – Evil is a Hellish thing, which we’ll long to escape…

Lord, the experience of evil is one that is real, and one that brings forth real cries of suffering and pain. Evil is hellish to face, whether in part or in full barrage. And yet in the psalmist’s words, amidst evil’s intense distress, is the ‘echo of a song yet to be sung’. It’s a song which we have heard now cried in Christ. Lord, You knew the noise of the enemy and the oppression of the wicked more forcibly, more terrifyingly, than I will ever know. In fact my crooked heart may experience some measure of true horror, but I know that the horror that seeps from my own heart is true enough as well. How easy to forget that. Yet You, the One who had no sin, became sin yourself. You were driven to the cross by the evil of mankind; corruption, selfishness, jealousy, greed, betrayal all cascading upon You until You were nailed to that wooden structure of death. And even then it was not over, for on that cross You experienced what it must be to be pure evil. And You bore it until it was Finished. I long to escape the mildest suffering and anguish, yet You cried ‘let not my will but Yours be done’. You didn’t ‘fly away’, Lord Jesus. Thank you.

v9-15 – But though it is hellish, evil is inescapable…

Indeed Lord, how hard to be a person amidst this evil, but more so ‘how hard it is to be the Shepherd King’ when people are as they are. Wherever people are we cause violence and strife, iniquity and trouble, ruin, oppression and fraud. And though we might long to run away from each other, to escape their bombardments, often we can’t. Yes, I’ve felt their effects; it is so often a bitter experience to live with fellow man. To step out of the door is to step into a world where selfishness breeds an ugly spawn of ill fruit that can make life taste truly bitter. The closest friend can be a source of much suffering. Undoubtedly, evil is inescapable. But, dare I forget, that is because of my own heart too: I am my neighbour’s problem, I am my own problem.

v16-23 – Evil is hellish and inescapable, but Christ is unshakable…

This is my experience in some measure Lord, but yet there is hope. I do not suffer alone as one with no hope. I do not have to deal with my own heart as one with no hope. I have hope, because I can say with the psalmist ‘as for me’ (v16, 23). You have done something that changes who I am. That is, you have done everything needed to bring me into a covenant relationship with You, the God who saves. Solid, strong, secure; You are my ‘LORD’, and so I’m unshakable. Though my own personal prayers falter and dither, with my energies distracted elsewhere, You prayed to the Father for me. You prayed and chose the cross, when even your closest disciples were closing their eyes, falling asleep and betraying their Lord. And now You intercede for me without ceasing.

So to hear your words, ‘cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you’, well what joy they should bring to my anxious and sensitive heart. Because, Lord Jesus, You have shown You are the One upon whom every burden of my heart can be cast. You promise to sustain, and as the one who gives each living thing its daily breath, I have no worries that You can.

To hear ‘You will never permit the righteous to be moved’, well, what hope would I have of even dreaming of owning that promise, if it were not for You? You are the One whose beautiful righteousness shines like the sun, and You are the One who beautifully chooses to clothe me in Your righteousness. In you, Lord Jesus, lies my only hope. In your unshakability lies my only hope.