Did you know there is an Ethan in the Bible? Although he’s certainly not a household name like David or Paul or John, he’s in there! My firstborn is named Ethan and he was delighted to find Psalm 89 which was written by “Ethan the Ezrahite.” This Ethan has something to say to the weary spouse or the weary parent. Like us, he needed a dose of hope too. Things weren’t going according to plan.
Yet the Ethan of the Bible begins his beautiful Psalm by rehearsing the attributes of God and blessings of the believer.
The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. Psalm 89:11
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. Psalm 89:15-16
But then Ethan laments the fact that the king had been defeated in spite of God’s promises.
How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? Psalm 89:46
Ethan’s psalm depicts the age-old tension between the promises of a faithful God and the harsh realities of everyday life. Think of this Psalm as a spouse or as a parent.
You know God has ordained your family and provided everything you need for its success, so then why is it so hard to get along sometimes? Maybe you don’t feel like the Lord is supporting you in your marriage. You know intellectually that God reigns over everything but why does He seem to be hiding from you? Why doesn’t He intervene in your marriage? If God is on the throne, why aren’t you getting along with your teenage son or connecting with your daughter?
Even with his questions and complaints, Ethan the Ezrahite ends his psalm with praise.
Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen. Psalm 89:52
At the end of his venting if you will, Ethan reasserts his praise to God. God is true and good. And as if one Amen (meaning so be it) wasn’t enough, he writes it again. Amen and Amen. Sometimes you must talk to your soul and encourage yourself in God’s Word.
For one of my books, I interviewed author Poppy Smith who married at 22, starry eyed and head over heels in love. She was British, her husband was American, and they met in Nairobi. Talk about culture shock plus the two were about as opposite as opposite could be. Six months into their marriage, Poppy told her husband she had made a huge mistake in marrying him. About her third or fourth year of marriage, she came to an emotional and spiritual crisis. She said,
I was pleading with God to show me a Biblical way out of my marriage but I couldn’t find incompatibility as a reason. I thought I would have an emotional break down because I was so depressed or boiling angry. I just cried out to the Lord and He made it very clear: Poppy, let me change you. Instead of focusing on him and all the things you don’t like about him, Poppy let me work on you.
I had become someone I hated. I never expected to be an angry, bitter, resentful person. It took me being broken before God.
That was 45 years ago and I’m happy to say that Poppy and her husband are doing well. Her turnaround occurred when like Ethan the Ezrahite in Psalms 89, she turned her lament into praise.
When you’re facedown before God in humility and desperation, He will lift you up. God can make a way for hope and happiness when there seems to be no way.
Have you experienced God’s hand of goodness after you’ve gone through a period of struggling or questioning?