Pain and suffering, heartache and struggles are things none of us enjoy, but are familiar to us all. I have friends in two separate situations who are facing extremely difficult times right now. As far as I know, all involved are following Jesus, and trying to obey Him. My heart breaks for them, and I wish that I could take their pain away, if only for a few hours. What I can do is assure them that God is with them and will stay with them every step of the way.
The Bible reading plan that I am following this year had me reading Psalm 34 a couple of weeks ago. In the margin of my Bible, next to the text, I found a date - August 8, 2009. This date brings back a flood of memories. I see now that the content of these verses, and the truths that the speaker pointed out that day, were just what I had needed to survive the next couple of years. I didn’t go back to these verses and consciously follow their guidance, but today I realize the instruction God gives in those verses became part of who I am, and became the way I thought and behaved.
This Psalm brings direction, hope and promise to all who are facing struggles and situations that seem desperate. The verses in Psalm 34 indicate that there are some things we need to do, and, there are things the scripture promises that God will do. The following are a combination of the truths the speaker mentioned in 2009, and some I identified in my current study.
Accept the Lord’s Plans
1 I will praise the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
Admit the Problem (take the problem to Him)
4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Applaud God’s Greatness (Rejoice in Him)
1 I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will boast in the Lord; the humble will hear and be glad.
3 Proclaim Yahweh’s greatness with me; let us exalt His name together.
Abide in God alone (Take Refuge in Him)
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good. How happy is the man who takes
refuge in him.
18 The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.
19 Many adversities come to the one who is righteous, but the LORD delivers
him from them all.
Redeems Us (He buys us back)
22 The Lord redeems the life of His servants,
and all who take refuge in Him will not be punished.
We are all familiar with the concept of praising God during hard times. You may be tempted to be angry that these hard times are part of the Lord’s plans. But I think of Job. It was Satan’s idea to tempt Job and bring devastation to him. God allowed it, because He knew the trials would make Job even stronger.
August 26, 2009 will be ingrained in my memory forever. This was the day our 3 ½ year old grandson was diagnosed with leukemia. We did not like what Jon-Marc had to go through, but God has made each member of our family stronger and better Christians because of it. Jon-Marc’s parents have grown in amazing ways. Yes, they had horrible days, they had times of questioning God, but they never turned from Him; they asked for His help and strength.
Yes, heartache comes to the Christian, but God is there. He WILL deliver! He will redeem. He will make up for all of the struggle you are going through and will reward you for taking refuge in Him.
He wants to be with you today. If you are facing the most difficult time in your life, don’t despair. There is hope, and the future will be brighter. Get to know Psalm 34 well. Make it part of your daily reading and practice its instruction. Then claim the promises God gives to all who will trust in Him.
Have you ever felt “out of sorts”, left out, or neglected? Sometimes things don’t go the way I would like them to. Sometimes my ideas go ignored. You’ve probably got buttons of your own that, when pushed, send you into a “funk.” There are so many things that can put me in a bad mood and ruin my day. But, years ago I realized that I have a choice to make. I can continue to wallow in self-pity, or I can determine to do what is right and have a pleasant attitude. The verse in Acts 11:23 describes how I need to live in all circumstances.
When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.
Barnabas had traveled to Antioch to investigate rumors that a group of unknown men were preaching about Jesus. The Apostles were concerned that this group might be preaching false doctrine. However, it seems that it didn’t take long for Barnabas to discover these men were indeed preaching truth and their ministry was being blessed by God. The verse states that “he was glad.” Some versions translate the word “rejoiced.” He was excited to see God working among these people. It doesn’t say so here, but I can imagine that Barnabas whispered a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Then, true to his nature, Barnabas “encouraged them.” He went on to give these new followers of Jesus specific direction. He encouraged them to continue with the Lord “with PURPOSE.” They were to live a life pleasing to God with intention and determination.
It’s easy to fall back on the old “I’m a woman; it’s my hormones” excuse. Yes, hormones are real and we don’t have complete control over them. But, often it is not the female hormones. Both men and women fight bad attitudes.
Several years ago my pastor’s wife walked past me in the busy church foyer and didn’t stop to speak to me. I remember being faced with two choices of thought. The selfish, touchy Debi could have thought, “She walked right past me today at church and didn’t even acknowledge that I was standing there.” Or, the patient, understanding Debi could have thought, “She walked past me today and didn’t speak. She is so busy. I am sure she must have a dozen things on her mind. I’ll give her a call to see if there is something I can do for her.” And then, I could take it further and remember to pray for her as she faced all the pressures and responsibilities of being a pastor’s wife.
Many things can put us “out of sorts” if we let them. Many people in our lives seem to bring out the worst in us and get us into a bad frame of mind. I encourage you today to remember, and heed the words of Barnabas:
“…with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.”
Then you will be able to say with confidence:
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.” Psalm 28:7
Debi Snider... more