A few verses down in Chapter 30 Job complains again to the Lord when he says, “You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; You toss me about in the storm.” (Job 30:22) Have you ever felt that way? Disheartened, fearful, or left feeling that your prayers are being shut out by a God who just stares at you in response to them? This is not coming from the Lord. For Psalm 34:17 tells us, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.” Or Proverbs 2:3 goes on to say, “He is near us when we pray.” We can’t rely on raw feelings during stressful times, nor can we succumb to Satan’s taunts of, ” If God really loved you, He’d be helping you right now.” No, like Job, we must acknowledge God’s sovereignty, His control and perfect timing in all things. For no matter how abandoned or far away from God we may “feel”…God hasn’t gone anywhere…nor will He.
When we cry out to the Lord in the time of some critical or chronic need…what do we want? We want the situation to change. Whatever it is has us controlled, restrained, or limited in some way, and we want God to come to our aid. Psalm 118:5 tells us, “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered me by setting me free.” In Job 36:16 this idea is repeated that God, in my distress, will set my feet in a spacious place. Now the need may or may not miraculously disappear…but God promises that our minds can be set free from the emotional anguish and misery that have us hemmed in… when we call on Him.
During the very darkest time of my life I would read Psalm 86 in its entirety out loud every morning. I was alone, isolated from friends and family, and in the middle of a very violent relationship. I felt hopeless, helpless and totally alone. As I read these words out loud, I could almost hear David reminding himself that the Lord was near. And as he recalled all of God’s attributes…His great love, His mercy, compassion, and faithfulness, I too would be reminded of them and what God had done for me. And in the end, just like David, this Psalm gave me the strength and courage to endure for one more day.
Distress comes in many different forms, and no one is immune to worry. But it’s how we approach difficulties and troubles that can make the difference between barely wallowing through them, and coming out the other side better not bitter. This Psalm gives us a blueprint or a road-map, if you will, when it comes to offering our supplication before the Lord. First we need to realize that when we cry out to God, He actually hears us. He’s not some far off entity… aloof and distant. Rather, God longs to hear our prayers and work in and through the troubles we’re going through. Next, He’s a just God full of kindness…He knows what we’re going through and wants to help. Finally, He’s a listening God. For when there’s no one else you can confide in…He’s always there.
The blind beggar was hopeless…his life, a story of misery and suffering…but then he heard about this man, Jesus, who was healing people of all their afflictions. So when he caught word that Jesus was going to be passing by, he seized on the chance that Jesus might heal him. He started yelling, but was abruptly chided and warned to be quiet…and he could have allowed his fear of man to stop his voice…but he didn’t! That’s because the blind beggar’s desperation far outweighed any curt remarks directed his way, and his faith in Jesus far stronger than any words spoken by man. He was not detoured by others or fear…for he knew Jesus could heal him.
What was King Solomon looking for when he gave such a bizarre and brutal order? Before him were two prostitutes seeking justice…both claiming this baby was theirs. On hearing his order, one agreed with it…while the other, filled with compassion for the child, said, “Please my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!” That was the visceral reaction King Solomon was looking for…and he gave the baby to that mother. Our God has that same kind of deep compassion towards us. For He looks upon us as a father looks upon his children…with mercy, tenderness and pity.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) And during those dark times in our lives when our spirit is broken, it’s that joy we need to hold tightly to. For it’s the blessedness and gratitude of joy that can change our attitude and view of things. The situation we’re in may not change…but the joy of the Lord will strengthen us to press on.
When life’s going along smoothly…we tend to ignore God. We smugly think it’s us that’s making it all happen. So when disease, death or tragedy hits – we’re thrown for a loop. ” How can this possibly be happening to me…what am I going to do…how can I fix this?” It’s at that point of distress, we finally cry out to the Lord. But how do we know God’s listening to us…how do we know we have His attention? We can start by reading His Word. The Bible is full of times when God miraculously answered His people’s cries for help. And each time He answered, their faith was built up a little more. The Psalmist showed this confidence when he wrote, “Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to You, for You will answer me.” (Psalm 86:6-7) It’s that assurance from past answered prayers that enable us to have confidence every time we cry out to God anew.
This verse starts out with the words, “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord”. The Hebrew word for “tell” here has two definitions – the first being to remember or reflect upon, the second being to declare or proclaim. When we stop and reflect upon just how much the Lord has done for us…how many good things He has provided…how merciful and kind He has been towards us – how can we not want to share with others this love? Ephesians 2:4 tells us, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” It is only by that unwarranted, unmerited love of God you are the person you are today through Him.
There’s been many times in my life when I’ve bared my soul to the Lord and complained loudly! I’ve spilled out my frustrations as well as my tears before Him…knowing He would be the only one that could fully understand my distress. And God does. There is nothing you’re going through today that has caught God by surprise…nothing He doesn’t already know about. The old Hymn, “What a Friend we have in Jesus” is so true…for when there’s no one else you feel you can confide in…Jesus is always there.