I have always been deeply moved by Psalm 3 and the context in which it was written. King David was literally on the run from his son Absalom. Before even considering the adrenaline in such a moment of being pursued on all sides by an army that wanted only to kill him, I can’t imagine the grief and pain David felt because his own son was leading the charge.
David says so much in just eight short verses. In describing his worsening situation and crying passionately out to God, David clearly and powerfully describes who the Lord is to him:
“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the one who lifts my head high.” Psalm 3:3
While expressing his desperate need of God, David was also acutely aware of the variety of ways the most high God is in total control. God is our shield, our total protection. David the warrior knew who really owned this fight.
David also knew God was his glory. How many earthly leaders conquer, rule, and govern for their own glory? As great, powerful, and revered as he was, David knew whose glory he sought. He was all in and certain about that.
David also knew God to be the lifter of his head. How many times in his life to this point, did David have reason to be downcast and hang his head, either in sheer exhaustion from fleeing his pursuers, or the shame he knew from his own sin? Without fail, God redemptively lifted David’s head whether on the battlefield or inside his own heart.
Charles Spurgeon once put it this way:
There is a lifting of the head by elevation to office, as with Pharaoh’s butler; this we trace to the divine appointment. There is a lifting up in honor after shame, in health after sickness, in victory after a temporary defeat; in all these respects the Lord is the lifter up of our head.1
Recently, Dr. Carol Hamrin, in reflecting “since 1989 on God’s sovereign work in China through periodic tumult,” offered the following as the first lesson she has learned:
We must accept the limits to our human understanding. God’s ways are not our ways, Proverbs 3:5-6: “Lean not on your own understanding.” John 12 relates how “At first Jesus’ disciples did not understand.” To be a disciple means living with daily uncertainty and a major shortage of short-term clarity. Over and over again Jesus had to say to his followers, “You do not know . . .”
Jesus’ primary purpose is not the comfort of his followers—which we tend to seek—but bringing in the kingdom rule reconciling all to God. When something happens, it may take a long time to know what it means for the kingdom. Some “good things” turn out to be bad because they are mishandled or create pride. Some seemingly “bad things” are really good in the longer term because they lead to faith and humble service to God.2
Wherever one lives in the world today, because of COVID alone, the world is in tumult. Yet even as we closed the book on a painful but redeemed 2020 and opened 2021, facing more that is bewildering and troubling, we hold fast to God who is our shield and protector, who gets all the glory and is the lifter of our heads!
News and Notes
Praising God and Thanking You!
With excitement and gratitude we want you to know that we were able to meet the US$50,000 matching challenge that took place from late November through December 31, 2020. To all who prayed and/or were able to provide a gift, thank you so much!
ChinaSource Team Transitions
As 2020 drew to a close, the ChinaSource team said a loving goodbye and huge thank you to Hannah Lau, who has been our consultant for marketing and communications for the past six years. Hannah has been a vital and dynamic member of the team and continues to be a beloved friend and kingdom partner. We will be looking for help in the marketing and communications area, so stay tuned.
On January 4 we welcomed Peter Arneson aboard as the new ChinaSource Donor Relations Manager. We are thankful the Lord led Peter our way and look forward to introducing him in the February Lantern.
This talk by Professor Lida Nidelsky, and hosted by the US-China Catholic Association will highlight the involvement of Catholics and Protestants in Hong Kong’s civic life, and offer perspective regarding the contributions of Hong Kong’s Christians to the civic life of the territory, the impact this has had on churches, and the implications of recent events.
The event will be on February 25 at 5PM (PST). It is part of a joint lecture series sponsored by the US-China Catholic Association, ChinaSource, and the China Academic Consortium. Go here to register and learn more.
ChinaSource Team News
The week after Christmas, Joann Pittman and Dan Kennicutt participated in Chinese Mission Convention Global 2020 (CMC), a ministry of Ambassadors for Christ, Inc (AFC). To learn more of this remarkable conference and the ministry of Ambassadors for Christ, see Joann’s blog, “An Online Missions Convention.“
Ways to Pray
- Praise the Lord with us for redeeming 2020 for his purposes and will. Despite many challenges and hardships throughout the year, our Lord confirmed his calling for ChinaSource to be a bridge for unity in Christ and partnership in the advance of his kingdom between the church in China and the world.
- Thank God with us for our many prayer and supporting partners and the sacrificial end-of-year gifts the Lord provided through them.
- Pray that the ChinaSource team will follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in 2021 to serve the Body of Christ in China and globally.
- Pray for Hannah Lau as she follows our Father into the exciting new season he has for her.
- Pray for Peter Arneson, that the Lord will bless him in his new role as ChinaSource Donor Relations Manager.
In Case You Missed It
A selection of recently published items:
- Youth Hymns and Chinese Christian Hymnody in the Mid-Twentieth Century, ChinaSource Blog, January 20.
- Praying for Shijiazhuang, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), January 19.
- Children’s Day and Other Sparks of a Prolife Movement in China, ChinaSource Blog, January 18.
- Hohhot!, ChinaSource Blog, January 15.
- The Chinese American Church as a New Community for Self-Identification: Thoughts While Reading the 2020 Winter Issue of CSQ, ChinaSource Blog, January 13.
- China Christian Daily’s Top 10 News Stories of 2020, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), January 12.
- Reflections on Returning “Home”, ChinaSource Blog, January 11.
- An Online Missions Convention, ChinaSource Blog, January 08.
- 6 Approaches to Contextualization in China, ChinaSource Blog, January 06.
- China’s Churches Celebrate Christmas, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), January 05.
- Recognizing Blessing in the Coming Integration, ChinaSource Blog, January 04.
- Happy New Year—2021!, ChinaSource Blog, January 01.
- A Dictionary for Learning Theological Chinese, ChinaSource Blog, December 30.
- Chinese Church Voices—Top 10 for 2020, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), December 29.
- Top 10 ChinaSource Blog Posts in 2020, ChinaSource Blog, December 28.
- Cancel Christmas?, ChinaSource Blog, December 25.
- Top Ten Zgbriefs Links—Coronavirus Wins!, ChinaSource Blog, December 23.
- Making Plans for 2021—for Your Family, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), December 22.
- Variations on a Theme, ChinaSource Blog, December 21.
- 平安夜, Silent Night!, ChinaSource Blog, December 18.
- Bible Study Tools, Psalm 3:3, https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/treasury-of-david/psalms-3-3.html
- Hamrin, Carol “Fervent Faith and Audacious Hope: Reflections on China Today and God’s Purpose” in China 2020, Global China Center, December 20, 2020, https://www.globalchinacenter.org/analysis/china-2020.
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