As I write these words, the Russian military is carrying out a brutal assault on the people of Ukraine. There are reports of rockets raining down on civilians and convoys encircling cities. We do not know just where all of this is headed, but it is hard to imagine an ending that is anything less than horrific.
I want so badly to reach the place at which our psalmist has arrived in these final verses. In the first fifteen verses, the psalmist lays out a case against unnamed evildoers, imploring God to pour down righteous fury upon them. But then in verse 16, the verb tense moves from present to past. The psalmist now seems to be on the other side of whatever ordeal they were going through and is satisfied with how the Lord responded to their plea.
Now, it’s certainly possible that after crying out from the darkness, the writer puts down the pen and waits for God to act before picking it back up again to complete the psalm.
But I wonder if it’s more likely that instead of waiting for God to act, the psalmist imagines what it will feel like when God does, as an act of faith as well as sheer survival. Anger, no matter how righteous, is ultimately corrosive, so the writer is choosing to live as if this change has already happened, which is what it means to live by faith.
What we have in this psalm is not a historical record of circumstances changing, but a witness to the power of holy imagination to help us live our desired future into reality.
I pray we will have made it to that future by the time you read this. But if we have not, let us not wait to dream together what that peace will look like.
What is one way you could decide to live today as if longed-for change has already occurred?
God, help us imagine the future you want for us this day and live it into being. Amen.