Sunday, July 13, 2014

Trouble, is that You?

Have you noticed it's easier to talk about suffering when you're not? We generally don't lay it all out at prayer meetings when ours is the child in ICU or outright rebellion, when we're the one fighting the hourly battle of eating disorders or self-injury, when unexpected loss of life or job pulls the rug out from under our lives. It's the people whose lives are rocked, not upside down, who share intimate details for the prayer list and other's ears.

How I have been blessed by those who endure, who keep their eyes on Christ, who cling to peace and contentment in the face of the unknown. Those who suffer with trust speak words of hope, pray prayers of expectation, and wait. They wait. on. the. Lord.

I was reminded, as I watch suffering friends--and then as I read this week about David 's life under threat from Saul--what a godly response to difficulty looks like. David's response, recorded in Psalms, is both refreshing and surprising when I look at what he thinks, want and does compared to my mental list of to-do's. His "big plan" does not include trying to convince Saul of his innocence, working to solve the problem (worrying) or manipulating people and circumstances. Instead, he says:
- my heart will not fear, I am confident because God is the strength, the light, the stronghold of my life;  
- What do I want? To behold the beauty of the LORD, to meditate  in His temple and find safety in His presence.
- When He has brought me safely to His presence (more confidence), I will offer sacrifices with joy and sing, sing praises to the LORD,
- Until then, I will cry with my voice, seek His face, wait for the LORD, be strong, take courage, and wait for the LORD.

David did not set out on a conquest or command armies or run from trouble. He sought the LORD, he set his eyes, heart and focus on the LORD.

What does this mean for me? When faced with trouble, the answer is obviously unnatural. I need to stop (not run). I need to look to the Lord (not my own thoughts, other's motivations or possible changes in circumstance) In that moment, I need to stay put and wait on the Lord; to look for Him and seek Him with courage and strength. I am certain that if trouble's not here today, it's not far behind or ahead. It's coming. As God is gracious and I am obedient, may I set my heart and mind on His unfailing love and faithfulness.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.
One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.
Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27
* If you would like to study Psalm 27 in depth, I highly recommend Paul David Tripp's book, A Shelter in the Time of Storm.

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