Recently, I found myself reading the forty sixth psalm. The first line sounded normal enough.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” [Psalm 46:1, NIV Bible]
But then it metamorphosed into a very relevant, modern day psalm of which I shall share a few lines:
Therefore we will not fear, though the economy tumbles
and the cedi weakens threatening to leave pockets empty,
though the people demonstrate and strike
And NHIS leaves many dead in its wake.
A conspicuous element of the cityscape in Accra is the huge bill boards announcing various programmes and activities of churches and religious groups. Until Easter, the next major event of the Church’s year, you would still find bill boards announcing special watch night and cross over services to welcome the New Year. I had gotten so used to seeing them that it took a friend visiting from outside Ghana to point out their unobvious incongruity to me.
Sometimes cities become so cosmopolitan that religion gets shoved aside. It becomes something people do only to feel good about themselves. However, in a developing country like ours, people do not have this luxury of brushing God aside. Religion, and thus, faith, is an intricate and inseparable part of life. Plenty of it is cultural. A lot of it is also because you cannot afford not to have a bit of faith to survive the spectacular challenges that plague our country. In many minds, I daresay that God is a more reliable person than politicians. To the latter, it is a convenient scapegoat for things gone wrong. Religion and faith are not exactly the same, but for now I won’t delve into what they are or are not.
Religion often gets irresponsible and flares up tempers like we hear in the news all the time. But instead of being a catalyst for unrest, religion in Ghana, mainly Christianity, has generally stood the test of time, calming choppy political waters, bridging tribal affiliations and bearing silent witness to the challenges of everyday life. Churches keep hooligans off the streets. (So be careful when you go to church…they are there). A lucrative employer, the church also offers an excellent way for people to develop their talents on their way to singing and acting careers. In all, I daresay that religion has not been the cause for fanaticism and Ghana as a whole has found a balance that so far works. No, I shall not comment on the Yemenis in Ghana.
So when as a young, black, female person (I heard somewhere that this combination qualifies you for an extra dose of sympathy) I look for answers and there are none, only more questions and press releases that prophesy more trouble ahead, then my faith consoles me…after I get mad. So it wasn’t hard for me to see my world through a psalm. I pray when I am stuck in traffic, when I hear fuel prices have gone up again, when the lights go out, when classrooms are empty but teachers are looking for jobs, and of course, when I eat. So while you wonder what is going on and might have complained to anyone who will listen, I ask, “Have you prayed for your country today?”
How does the psalm end?
“The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” [Psalm 46:11, NIV Bible]
So say a prayer. Let faith thrive so it can do its work.
by Grace Ecklu