9 Aug 2021
“Saving Lives at Sea” is one of our family’s favourite TV programmes. It shows remarkable rescues performed by the volunteer crews of the RNLI. It’s extraordinary how quickly a lifeboat crew can respond to an emergency call, but even if they run to the lifeboat, launch immediately, and set off at breakneck speed it can still take many minutes to reach those in danger.
“They just need to sit tight until we get there”, a crew member says as they race towards some kayakers clinging desperately to an isolated rock as the waters rise around them. “I hope they don’t try and swim for the shore – they’ll never make it.” For those in danger, who can’t yet see the lifeboat, it’s hard to keep trusting that their rescuers are coming. But striking out on their own, trying to save themselves, would take them further from the safety they crave.
Psalm 33 is a psalm for those who know that they are being saved but who aren’t yet on dry land. That’s every Christian, living between Jesus' death and resurrection and his glorious return. Our rescue is guaranteed. We are already chosen, forgiven and adopted into God’s people. But right now, when the immediate pressures feel more real than our future hope, we keep having to choose: Will I continue to trust in God?
After all, it’s a long time since that first Easter Day. Maybe God’s forgotten us. God’s promised me a forever family, but at school I feel like an outsider. God’s promised to make me like Jesus but Maths homework makes me explode like a volcano. If I really was being rescued, wouldn’t life feel easier? Can I be sure God will finish what he’s started?
Everyone around me is busily swimming towards their own version of happiness and safety. Perhaps I should be, too. I could be securing my place in the hockey team, instead of sitting in church. Revising for my exams instead of reading the Bible. Blending in with my mates instead of sticking out as the only Christian. Shouting about my strengths instead of learning to be humble. Working hard to build my own future, instead of trusting God to get me safely to the eternal home he has prepared. Wouldn’t I be better off trusting the things everyone around me trusts?
Psalm 33 answers those questions for us:
Will God finish what he has started? Absolutely!
He is the LORD (v1) – Yahweh, the promise-making, promise-keeping God of the covenant. He is faithful (v.4); what he says, happens (v9); his plans stand firm forever (v11)
Wouldn’t I be better off trusting the things everyone around me trusts? No way!
Human plans that oppose or ignore God will always fail (v10); whatever we trust instead of God – money, power, success, human approval, technology, education – is powerless to save us (v16-17).
But there is one question we have to answer for ourselves: Will I continue to trust in God?
The psalmist, and those who first sang this psalm, were clear about their answer: “We wait in hope for the Lord!” (v20-21). Their lives weren’t always easy. They hadn’t yet experienced their promised inheritance. They lived in the middle of the story, before the happy ending. Yet they chose to keep trusting their faithful God who is the only source of lasting safety. What about us? What will we choose? Let’s remind ourselves, and our children, to keep trusting in our rescuer, Jesus. We can’t yet see him but he is coming to get us, so hold on!
We have written a series of four Sunday School sessions to help our families work through this period of clear up. We have focused on four overwhelming emotions our children might be feeling. As with all our resources, we hope you will find these lessons flexible enough to suit your unique needs. Consider using them as the foundation for your church sermons and youth ministry. Use the ‘Parent Components’ to encourage conversations about these Psalms at home. If we can all learn together then we will surely be better at fighting the monsters together.