Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Needy Will Not Always be Forgotten

But the needy will not always be forgotten,
nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.
Arise, O LORD, let not man triumph;
let the nations be judged in your presence.
Strike them with terror, O LORD;
let the nations know they are but men.
Selah
Psalm 9:18-20

It's a scary prayer if you think about it. Whenever we pray for the needy, we should remember that we are in some ways praying against the privileged. We can't pray for one without effecting the other, that's the nature of the human condition. We exist in a perpetual community, an organic interdependence. Even though we create entire individualistic systems to counteract our interconnectedness, our efforts to escape community even with the poor and the needy are wholly futile. this is part of what it means to be created in the image of a Triune God. We can't expect to pray for one without praying something for all.

Therefore, when we pray with hope that "the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish" we are in some sense also praying that those systems and people and nations who forget the needy will somehow be changed. When we pray for the needy we are also praying, "arise, O LORD, let not man triumph... Strike them with terror, O LORD; let the nations know they are but men." When we pray as Jesus taught us, "give us this day OUR daily bread," we are praying at some level that those who've been hoarding their bread will be brought to share it with those who've been neglected. So we must continuously ask ourselves, whose side are we on? When we root for the poor, are we rooting for or against ourselves? How we answer that question has everything to do with how we identify ourselves and who we identify with. Do we identify with the rich and forget the poor or do we identify with the poor and share in the humility and victory of Christ who identified with the least of these?

Remembering we are "but men," as the Scriptures put it, is to remember the needy. It is to remember in deepest humility that we are in this together and that the for the needy to "not always be forgotten" it means that I must do something to remember them. I must remember them in my prayers. I must remember them in my meals as I remember Christ who re-members us together, the rich and the poor alike, as one. I must remember them lest I forget who I am.

If the nations wage war against the poor, they wage war against Christ and they wage it against us all.