Lady Gaga: A Psalmist’s Perspective
Written by Hanna Luong, Christian Renewal magazine
Not many 24 year olds can say that they are in the top ten of Forbes magazine’s list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. Or that their Facebook page has 30,962,180 likes and counting. Or that their face and their fashion are internationally recognizable. Or that they make millions.
But Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, best known as Lady Gaga, can. How does she do it? She who endorses what scripture condemns. She who works tirelessly to develop the glory of her own image, claiming that “[artists] are nothing without [it].” Lady Gaga is one remarkable example of what has been a trend for thousands of years: the seeming prosperity and success of those who do not find their help in God.
Consider Psalm 73. Asaph perceived that there were no pangs in the death of the wicked, that their strength was firm, that they were not in trouble or plagued as other men, but that they had “more than heart could wish,” while he, a follower of God, was plagued all day long and chastened every morning. Doesn’t it often seem unfair that in spite of our prayers and our practice of daily faithfulness that we are often left job hunting while our fellow graduates have good jobs, or that we never “get ahead” financially while our friends seem to have “more than heart could wish,” as the psalmist puts it.
In light of what we read here, and what we see in our own experience, how do we read verses of scripture that claim that every circumstance is orchestrated to bring the greatest good to those who love God (Romans 8:28)?
For Ann Voskamp, it all comes down to perspective. In her book A Thousand Gifts she explores the innumerable ways that she experiences God’s blessings and grace, from the “morning shadows across old floors” (gift #1) to “resurrection bloom, an amaryllis, a gift in the year coming” (gift #1000). But in her exploration of what it means to be thankful in all things, under every circumstance, Ann finds herself forced to address those things that we do not naturally thank God for. Having experienced the death of her younger sister at a very young age, the anxiety attacks of agoraphobia in her 20s and her mother’s admittance into a mental health facility later in her life, Ann’s life has not been all morning light and amaryllis blooms.
She concludes that we do not believe in “a God of sporadic, random, splattering goodness”, but in a God that ordains all things – even the disaster of a city (Amos 3:6) or personal ruin (Job) or joblessness, financial struggles, sickness, phobias, and all of the things in our lives that we would not tend to put on a list of 1000 gifts of God. From the perspective of faith in a God that is always good, all of these things, every thing, is for our benefit. Sometimes we’re given grace to ascertain this in the moment, other times it will require hindsight to see God’s face in all the moments of our lives and many times we aren’t privy to God’s purposes (His thoughts and ways are higher than ours).
Consider Psalm 73 again. Asaph sees that he was “foolish and ignorant…like a beast” before God. His perspective was unclear until he entered into the presence of God (“went into the sanctuary”). Then he saw that those who do not worship God have no help, “they are set…in slippery places” and cast “down to destruction.” He saw that those who trust in God are continually with Him, even being held by the hand and guided by His counsel.
So if you never make it onto a Forbes list, or if you always struggle financially, or if you don’t have 30,962,180 “friends” on Facebook or even one close friend, or if “your flesh and your heart fail,” know this: God is your strength and your portion forever. And what else, in heaven or earth, do we desire besides Him?
Posted by permission of Christian Renewal magazine, Volume 29, #11 April 6, 2011