Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, Lord. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
Psalm 4:6-8 NLT
Why is it that we are always looking for better times? Always striving for something better than what we already have. The television constantly bombards us with strident demands to get this gadget, or that new car, a cord-less jet washer, a hi-tech wonder mattress, or try a new type of food and so on. An endless list of non-essentials. In our comfortable lives we are apparently unsatisfied, or so the media would like to tell us.
In the Psalmist David’s days, the poor people really did need better times. Subsistence farming was precarious, to say the least, and a bad harvest could result in starvation. The people of that day must always have been yearning for better days, where they could accumulate something to tide them over when times got hard. The prospect of God smiling upon them gave them a picture of benevolence, of a gracious and generous God, always ready and willing to lavish upon them all they needed in bountiful supply. But David pointed out to them something better. A life of “greater joy” because God’s love was sufficient. A life of safety was there “under the shadow of His wings”. Joy and peace were, and still are, eternal.
But back to 21st Century Britain. Currently we are in the grip of rising energy costs, of food and fuel shortages caused by a lack of transport drivers. And people are anxious. Wondering if they can afford to heat their homes, or obtain their favourite foods or a supply of toilet rolls. Wondering about “better times”. Anxiety about the future drives the conversations in the pub, at the bus stop, in the street. I don’t know about you, but the God I know promised to meet all my “needs”. Not my “wants”, I should add. Not luxuries such as that “useful” gadget or that new car.
As recorded in Matthew 6:31-34, Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”. In other words, get your priorities right. Focus on God’s kingdom, living a righteous life, and consequently allow Him to supply what we need. As for striving for better times, we need to follow the example of the Apostle Paul. He said in his Epistle to the Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” That about sums it up. If we can find contentment in our lives through our relationship with God, then we have found something special – the “greater joy” David was talking about in his Psalm. In that place we will find peace and a sound sleep, both qualities that escape so many. Let’s not be in their number.