But they are glad now that I am in trouble;
they gleefully join together against me.
I am attacked by people I don’t even know;
they slander me constantly.
They mock me and call me names;
they snarl at me.
How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing?
Rescue me from their fierce attacks.
Protect my life from these lions!
Then I will thank you in front of the great assembly.
I will praise you before all the people. (NLT)
It is one thing to be in pain or distress. It is another thing to have others jeering at us from the sidelines. The Psalmist was trying to do the right thing but others mocked him and took delight in his setbacks.
This can happen to us when our attempts to follow Jesus fall short. We are accused of hypocrisy or dismissed as bigots. Or when we tell others we are praying for a good outcome in some area and that outcome doesn’t happen. Others might just shake their heads sadly at our misguided beliefs or mock us for our apparently infantile dependence on some invisible deity. We are seen as pathetic.
It can happen to the church in general. While we know the church does a lot of good, we can’t deny it can be its own worse enemy. Public declarations are made that send quite the wrong meaning. And instances of misconduct and abuse are never far away from the headlines. Little wonder we are mocked and attacked when we go wrong.
But we can be mocked and attacked when we are on the right track too. It happened to Jesus so it can happen to us individually and collectively. If the accusations are genuine, there is a need for practical penitence. If they are false or misguided, there can only be prayers to God as the Psalmist prayed. That he would do right even as wrong is done to us.