Sunday, February 28, 2016

Having hope in God when times are tough

Psalm 34:17-18 "The righteous cry, and the Lord hears And delivers them out of all their troubles.18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit."

When David wrote this Psalm under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he was in a season of great duress. The King of Israel, King Saul, whom David had served was in pursuit of David to take his life. David was in such a desperate situation that he fled to the sworn enemies of Israel - the Philistines - to seek temporary assylum. David chose to masquerade as a mad man before the King of the Philistines so as to not to draw suspisions from the Philistines, since he had killed Goliath. One can read of these tense moments for David in 1 Samuel 21. 

As David composes Psalm 34, his observations about God's nearness derive from having observed God's faithfulness in others hard-situations. It becomes quickly apparent that David was experiencing God's incredible presence in one of the most desperate moments of his own life. It is one thing to observe God at work in other people's lives, and yet quite another when you experience it for yourself.

The Hebrew text behind the English translation speaks of David's heart literally being "distressed" and "crushed". However we are given personal glimpse of God's response to David's cry for help: God "heard him" and "delivered him". 

Certainly there are those seasons we all go through where it feels like the bottom has fallen out and we're in a free-fall. Whenever we lose a loved one, or observe a loved one going through a difficult time or experience health issues, change of location or immense pressures in life - things can seem bleak. However, it is in those moments where the cramped space of our circumstance is just enough space to draw closest to God - and He to us. The darkened skies of life are ever illuminated by the backdrop of God's goodness - even when we may be barely able to see the next step. As one writer has noted: "Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence."

How often Jesus took the time to draw near to the Heavenly Father during the course of His earthly ministry (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12). Even on the cross, when everything was at its lowest point, Jesus sought after the Father. Jesus, the Great Shepherd, ever awaits to walk those who have trusted in Him by faith through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23; John 10:10). 

What makes the Christian's situation more remarkable than David's is that not only is the Lord with believers, He by the Holy Spirit now lives in them to see them through the tough times (John 14:16-17; Colossians 1:27). The most severest moments of life are refining times used by God to purify faith, strengthen resolve and to encourage dependance upon Him (James 1:3-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7). 

The flame of faith may flicker in the cross winds of times like David's days, however it is shielded by the bigger and greater grace of God (1 Peter 1:5). Hope cannot ever be fully snuffed out in the Christian, since the Holy Spirit ever delivers hope shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:1-5). 

As you think about whatever trial you may be facing today or tomorrow - remember dear Christian - the Lord's nearness to you is more than enough to give you hope and light. God will and is seeing you through. Be encouraged. 


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