Good morning from Liverpool, New York!
Our reading for this Wednesday, February 04, 2015 is Psalm 18:1-6.
18 I love you, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 5 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
There is nothing that convinces us more that we are desired and loved by God than when we find God has answered our prayers. This is particularly so when the deeper and more desperate the need is. It is obvious that the psalm writer, whom we believe was King David, experience such assurance from whatever incident he is referring to in this psalm. There are so many incidents we could draw upon from David’s life that would fit this occasion; times when he was overwhelmed by distress to the point where he considered his life endangered. Any of them might fit the background for this psalm and it does not really matter for us for you see we each have our moments when we feel so threatened fearful that what it is which we face will destroy us, even if the it will not in reality. The perceived threat can destroy our wellbeing and can actually threaten our health.
I do not believe the occasion is any exaggeration which should actually fortify the assurance we gain from this psalm. Where we might exaggerate the threat of our own personal problem, just as God answered David’s real threat of death so is God as concerned and responsive to our own circumstance. We too may recall other threatening event where in hindsight our anxiety was unwarranted as God brought us through. The remembrance of these times may well serve to shore up our confidence in whatever crisis we currently face.
There is though the remembrance when prayer did not result in the satisfaction of our need. Well, if we are aware of those disappointed results of prayer we at least lived through them to experience disappointment. God may well have been with us through the circumstance and ordered events to our benefit without our awareness. What we struggle with is the answer we had hoped to receive but did not get. This does not mean God loves us any less than those times in our lives God responded exactly as we desired. Again, what we wrestle with is perspective. Our faith must be built upon the rock of confidence that God loves us despite the circumstance. It is this confidence which produces the power to face daunting challenges and to persevere through them.
Our joy is bound to our perception. If we see God in every circumstance rather than impose our demand upon God we will more frequently see God’s hand of deliverance and provision. Such perception will only reinforce our resolve and result in our victory over whatever we face. We are not spared even death, which is an unalterable reality, by our prayer, yet as we live through the circumstance of our dying does not alter the fact that God is there assisting us until we go home, or that there is a home to go to after death. Our acceptance of the reality of life after death and God’s love for us to give us what we cannot begin to perceive is that very assistance we may need to make it through.
Just as we live by faith and not by sight does not mean God does not actually provide for us. There are times we will know we are loved due to the response to our prayers and others that the knowledge of God’s love for us is the answer to our prayer. Whatever the outcome we are comforted and empowered by faith. Should the answer prayer be a guarantee of our being loved we will be disillusioned. Living without this assurance will only make our circumstance and the effort to persevere more desperate. The fact is we are loved and God answers our prayers when we are open to perceive God’s involvement in every circumstance we face. The knowledge of God’s love through Christ, through the Holy Spirit gives rise to the power of hope, not to be based on what we see, but what is promised.
I know not what you face today. Possibly you are blessed with calm circumstance at the present time. Please remember the promises of God in Christ and the times in your life that God brought you through. Claim that you are loved and live with the confidence that whatever you might face you will not do so alone. The victory is already yours as your life is not defined by the moment but by eternity with a God who longs for you with no boundaries.
Blessings! Dr. Brian Homan