Summary: God of Wonders, Pt. 7
GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS (PSALMS 89:1-4)
God’s faithfulness to me can be summed up by my wife’s grievance against me: “God drops everything on your lap for you - including me!” She was right. God gave me a godly, loving, smart and wonderful wife. On hearing me speak for the first time, my Ph. D wife told me she enjoyed and appreciated my preaching; if not I would still be intimidated by her and we could still be single! Whenever we reminiscence on how we met, she would always say, “It’s so unfair!”
I wanted to head East and Midwest for ministry after seven years in Los Angeles but God brought me back to Southern California after half a year looking over there. Basically, I was not Chinese or American enough over there!
Friends and pastors in the ministry are puzzled how an English-speaking person like me “unexpectedly” gained a foothold in training young Chinese-speaking preachers. The seminary invited me to preach in Mandarin at their chapel service. They suggested I could use both languages, so I reluctantly agreed. A few days before the date, they called me and asked me to speak in English instead because officials from the accreditation agency ATS (Association of Theological Schools) were visiting the seminary and also attending chapel the same day – to my advantage. By God’s grace, the sermon went well. After that, the school invited me to lecture on preaching. I said, “In English?” They said, “No, in Mandarin.” I said, “I’ll think about it.” So I asked my friends, who all agreed it was a great opportunity. The students and I are gaps apart in language but I have been the regular teacher for more than seven years now on a subject most pastors would love to have the opportunity to teach. Not bad for someone who attended an English-speaking school from grade one and learned Mandarin in America!
The saying “God/The Lord/He is faithful” is integral to the New Testament (1 Cor 1:9, 1 Cor 10:13, 2 Cor 1:18, 2 Thess 3:3, 1 John 1:9). In fact, there are more such creedal declarations of His faithfulness than of His glory and love.
Ethan the Ezrahite’s Psalms 89 is a beautiful psalm extolling God’s faithfulness. The wisdom of Solomon was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. Next to him on the wisdom chart was Ethan the Ezrahite (1 Kings 4:30-31), the author of Psalms 89. Ethan the Ezrahite only penned one psalm but boy, was he a good songwriter and lyricist who spoke volumes on God’s faithfulness.
Why do we extol God’s faithfulness? What has He done? Who gets the benefit?
God’s Praise is Spoken from Our Lips
I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. (Psalms 89:1)
To Doris’ teenage nephew Joshua, food and singing are related. Born and raised in San Diego, he loves Chinese food, singing after a meal contentedly seating at the back of the car by himself. When he stayed with us when his mother was on a short-term missions trip, I did my best to shake him off his “Whatever,” “It’s OK” or “I don’t know” youth mentality. I asked the early teen then, “What do you want for lunch?” He said, “I don’t know,” which gives me more fuel to tease him. So I said, “Let’s eat American fast food.” He sobered up when he knew his love for Chinese food would be unrequited. Joshua then blurted and protested, “But we are Chinese! So we got to eat Chinese food!” His nice uncle and aunt (us) were happy to oblige.
Whenever Joshua’s family comes to visit, eating is their top priority. So off we go with Joshua’s family to Monterey Park or Rowland Heights. Once we went to a highly-rated but expensive shabu shabu restaurant in Monterey Park. The prices were exorbitant for thin slices of meat that one can get at the Chinese supermarket for a fraction of the cost. So we ate conservatively! Driving home after dinner we chatted for a long time until we ran out of conversation.
That’s when we realized something was wrong. Joshua was quietly sitting on the last row of the van, not saying a word throughout the conversation. Joshua’s parents said, “Oh-oh, Joshua is not singing. That means the food was so-so.” He shrugged his young shoulders. According to his parents, if Joshua does not sing, it means the food was merely mediocre or average, not good to great, or deserving praise or song.
God deserves our praise. His faithfulness is more than a statement of fact or a piece of information. God wants us to praise Him as well as proclaiming Him. He wants praise to be in our hearts as well as on our lips. He is not interested in head knowledge; He is after daily affirmation.