Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Church Family > Sermon Summaries > 16 Jun 2012, Dr Alex Currie - When Your World Collapses

When Your World Collapses

16 Jun 2012, Dr Alex Currie

(Alex is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)

When Your World Collapses - Light at the End of the Tunnel (Psalms 90)

Mark Schultz wrote a song, Love has Come, that in part says:

Well, I know this life is filled with sorrow
And there are days when the pain just lasts and lasts
But I know there will come a day
When all our tears are washed away with a break in the clouds
His glory coming down and in that moment

Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess
That God is love and love has come for us all
Every heart set free, every one will see
That God is love and love has come for us all

We all look for light at the end of the tunnel.  My mother looked for that light when she contracted cancer.  Everyone had a cure but in the end none worked a miracle.  Although she died she had hope.  Hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ.

Psalms 90 comes to grips with the reality of dark tunnels we will all face in this life.  So Moses wrote that human life is as fragile as grass that withers in the hot sun. (1)   Human promises fail because humans fail.  Human history is littered with broken treaties, broken promises and broken people.  Christians look beyond time to eternity, and this is where Psalm 90 begins and ends: 'Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God" (2)

So what is the Background to Psalms 90 which was compiled during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah?  It occupies a crucial place in Psalms for it is the first chapter in book 1V.  Book 111 concludes with a poignant lament concerning the loss of the monarchy, (3) Psalms 74, 79, 80, 83 reflect the destruction of Jerusalem (4) and the exile to Babylon.  Psalm 90 and Book 1V appear to be designed as a pick-me-up response to grief and phenomenal loss the Jewish race experienced.  Jews had lost their homes, temple, land, and the monarchy.  Psalms 90 offers a reality check from Moses longevity and leadership perspective - that a relationship with God is possible without land, temple and a monarchy.  In today's terms, without all the clutter & stuff of things, that consumes so much money and time.  

Recently, I was working with High School students whose school was closing.  In response to 'I love', (love was drawn as a big red heart), he drew the heart as the centre of a body.  The heart was turned into a face with a black eye - something that would heal.  On top of the head was the cross - a symbol of pain, suffering and hurt.  For that student he saw there was hope.

For Jews the exile and its aftermath were vivid reminders of human transience and the impermanence of human structures or institutions.  Jewish writers use figures of speech to reflect human brevity and fragility. (5)  Moses reminds us that we all die.  Even although he enjoyed heroic status as liberator, leader, and lawgiver, he died before entering Canaan. 

Psalm 90 is about the limited time each human has on the planet.   It is not pessimistic, despairing or hopeless,  for  Moses requests wisdom (6) and the psalm concludes on a positive & promising note.  Moses invites us to view our limited time from God's framework. (7)  Furthermore, God has the ability to "prosper the work of our hands" (8) in way we cannot.

The congregation sang Isaac Watts hymn, written in 1719, O God, Our Help   Watts was the son of a dissenter, a person at odds with the Church of England.  Isaacs father often found himself in trouble with law because of his differing views.   The eldest of nine children, Watts often displayed his propensity for rhyme as a child. Once when he opened his eyes during prayer in church he wrote:      'A little mouse for want of stairs     ran up a rope to say its prayers.'  He was punished for opening his eyes in prayer and spoke these words:          O father, father, pity take ---  And I will no more verses make.

Watts is considered the Father of modern hymns, for when he was a child the Church sang the Psalms that 'sounded as if a rusty saw were being sharpened close to his ear.' (9)  He was single all of his life, during which he wrote hundreds of hymns, such as  'When I Survey the Wondrous Cross' and 'I sing the Mighty Power of God'. O God, Our Help is a delightful paraphrase of Psalm 90.  John Bright wrote "it is the greatest hymn ever written in the English language." (10) 

1.  Believer's are Travellers - God is our Home

Christians are on a journey, travelling as 'pilgrims', staying in a different place each night.  Every day, Christians experience change and growth, we are on a journey together.  But Moses prayer addresses God as "Lord (adonai), You have been our dwelling place ("refuge") in all generations." (12)  This is a pivotal and foundational truth and reality.  God was been home to Israel.  He is like a house ,a refuge,  filled with peace, comfort and security. Like the prodigal son, we too go home to the 'waiting Father.' (13)

The Congregation sang 'This World Is Not My Home':

This World Is Not My Home,  I'm just a passing through
my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
the angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
and I can't feel at home in this world anymore

O Lord you know I have no friend like you
if Heaven's not my home then Lord what will I do?
the angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
and I can't feel at home in this world anymore

2.  Believer's are students in the School of Life

The author of Hebrews wrote 'For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child." (15)  In this life we all must expect challenges, trials, difficulties and issues that almost break the human spirit.  But hurdles such as these enable spiritual growth.

Psalms 90 is all about time.  Einstein humorously defined his theory of relativity this way "An hour sitting on the sofa with your girlfriend seems like just a minute whereas a minute sitting on a hot stove seems like an hour."  The challenge is to count your days to enable your days to count.  Moses wrote this psalm near the end of 40 years of wandering.

To conclude this second section the church sang "Abide with Me", written by Henry Francis Lyte (1793 - 1847) who was born near Kelso, Scotland.  He became an Anglican minister at 22.   While visiting a dying friend one day who continuously repeated 'Abide with me' (16) , he remembered the thought and penned this hymn not long before he died of TB

3.  For Believer's the Future is Their Friend (17)

Christians have a certain hope, based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. (18)

Oscar Romeo of El Salvador has written:

'It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.  The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.  We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.  Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us... This is what we are about.   We plant the seeds that one day will grow.   We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.   We lay foundations that will need further development.

'We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.  We cannot do everything;  and there is a sense of liberation in realising that.   This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.   It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity of the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.   We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.  We are prophets of a future that is not our own.' (19)



(1) Psalm 90:5
(2) Psalm 90:2
(3) Psalm 89:39-51
(4) 587 BCE
(5) Isa. 40:6-8; Ps. 103:15-16;  Ps. 90:5-6.
(6) Psalm 90:11-12
(7) Psalm 90:1-2, 4
(8) Psalm 90:17
(9) Christian Biography Resources, Internet "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past" by J. M. K. P 1.
(10) Ibid.
(11) Psalm 90:1-2
(12) Psalm 90:1
(13) Luke 15
(14) Psalm 90: 3-12
(15) Hebrews 12:6
(16) Luke 24:29
(17) Psalm 90:13-17
(18) 1 Peter 5:10; 1 John 2:17; John 14:1-3
(19) Prayer of Archbishop Oscar Romero who was assassinated in 1980 who may have used the words of Ken Untener - see discussion on Internet under both names.

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