Grace Today Magazine – House of Grace Church (October 2011)
“1I AM [Jeremiah] the man who has seen affliction… 21But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: 22It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. 23They are new every morning; great and abundant is your stability and faithfulness. 24The Lord is my portion or share says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.” (Lamentations 3:1a; 21-24 Amplified)
Sometimes in life we go through situations and circumstances that we do not understand neither can we really explain what is happening in our lives. At these times in life, all we can do is murmur, complain about the pain that we are going through even when we have done what we ought to have done to make sure that everything is going the way we would love to see things. But we ought to understand that there are some things that we will never understand. All we can do is align ourselves with God and allow him to do what He wills with our lives.
Paul Reminds us and tells us that “… we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV) At times it beats my knowledge and understanding of how God deals with us and the situations that He allows us to go through; yet, whenever we ask questions of why things are happening the way they are; His answer is always “my Grace is sufficient for you..” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and for someone in pain; this is something hard to take in.
We have examples of people who have been through hard times and they came out strong! from them, I learn a few lessons that I want to share with you! Take a look at Job and Joseph. Both were beloved people but they find themselves in circumstances and situations that they can’t explain. but from them, I take home these important lessons. During times of trials and afflictions:
- Your FAITH is tried, Tested and BUILT: When we are down in the valley, you will agree with me that you have very few friends. Nobody wants to be associated with you at that time. Joseph couldn’t understand why his own brethren would sell him off to slavery. I believe Job couldn’t take it anymore when his dear wife told him to curse God and die… (Job 2:9). But look at both of them.. through these trying moments, they hold onto God and at the end they come out victorious.
- You are being PREPARED for your next level: If I was Joseph; I wouldn’t have imagined that the dreams I had would have come to pass. But we see after getting from Potiphar’s house to the prison, his next place was the palace. There are things that God needs to see in you before He can release you to your next level… and the best way to is for you to go through what you are going through now. Be patient and learn the lesson NOW!! else you will repeat till you learn.
- In the end you get a DOUBLE PORTION: When God was through with Joseph, he was elevated to be the second in Command in Egypt and above all he had control of all the store house of Egypt. Job was restored and he was blessed with double of what he had in the beginning. (Job 42:11)
- You Know the FAITHFULNESS of the Lord: There is no one else who can give a TESTIMONY of anything if he/she hasn’t been at the place of TESTING. You can only know God well if you have been to that place where you have nowhere or no one else to turn to. Do not rely on people or things that can fail you… Trust in God and in Him alone.
You may not understand everything that’s going on in your life right now, but I encourage you to keep your head held high. Know that God is working in your life. Keep being faithful. Keep doing the right thing, knowing that in the end God is going to turn things around in your favor. If God is for you, who can be against you? No one. Greater is the One who is in you than anyone who can be against you. No matter what’s going on around you today, you can put your shoulders back and put a smile on your face because God is working things together for your good because He loves you!
PS! This is an article I contributed to the Grace Today Magazine of House of Grace Church (www.houseofgrace.or.ke). Visit the church and get your free copy of the October Magazine.
“24So Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." 27The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. 28Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." 29Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.” Genesis 32:24-29
Who wouldn’t want to be blessed? Who wouldn’t want to be referred to as ‘blessed one’ or a successful person? This is what all of us we aspire to be as well as strive to achieve in life. I thank God because of where He has brought us from – He has been Ebenezer to us. Personally I am a testimony of what God can do to once a ruined life to a testimony! If given a chance, I know many of us have a story to tell about where God has taken us from. Nevertheless, there is a mark unto which we are aiming at. As Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This is the same attitude that we should have that it is in Christ that we find fulfillment of our lives and purpose as well.
I was in a prayer session and God instilled this in my heart and spirit and I got really inspired! It actually changed my perspective on how I have been praying and my persistence in prayer. The Spirit was asking, How hungry are we to see God move, to see God bless us, our family, our friends, our work colleagues, how much do we want to see God move? Are we willing to persevere and push through in prayer not letting go, not giving up until we see God move? This is the biggest challenge that we have as Christians in this generation. We are in the generation where we are used to instant things and thus even in our prayers, search and quest for God; we want things to happen instantly. We forget that God does not operate as a human being. He has his plan and his plan is his will for you and me and it has to come to pass as He has ordained it. I find it so easy at times to start praying for something, one week later I don’t see any results, and sometimes I don’t particularly feel any different about a situation and so – I forget about it and move on to something else.
When we get to pray, you will realize that Jesus stressed so much on persistence. In the previous devotion that I sent (Persistence in prayer – Click here to read), we realized that Elijah prayed fervently and with persistence till God answered him with a sign (1 Kings 18:41-46). This is the same way God expects us to pray. Jesus gave the parable of the Persistent window in Luke 18:1-4. Unfortunately, many of us pray and when we see that the answer is delaying to come, we quit. I am encouraged as well as challenged by this window that I should be persistent to an extent of being a nagging person till I get what I want. That’s how we need to push through; we need to wrestle with the situation fight and travail through it in prayer, trusting and believing God not giving up until He pours out His blessing.
In this particular scripture, Genesis 32:24-29, we see Jacob sends his family and his possessions ahead of him so that he could be left alone and seek God in preparation to meet his brother Esau. It is here that he wrestled with God and has his name changed. This was the turning point of his life. I believe Jacob was tired of running and hiding himself away from his brother Esau and thus he wanted God to deal with him first before he met him. We need to reach that point in life where we tell the enemy that we are tired of playing hide and seek games with him and face him off. For how long shall we continue soothing and pleading with some situations in our lives that draw us back whenever we are advancing? I know that Jacob realized that if he didn’t face his brother then, they would forever live chasing each other and thus none of them would live in peace because of the fear of the other especially Jacob.
What is that that you are battling with in your mind, life, heart name it that is drawing you back? Is it your past life that is haunting you? Paul says that it doesn’t matter how your past is, all you need to do is forget it (the past) and press on to the mark of perfection (Philippians 3:13-14). No one is perfect, but Christ perfects us. Is it a habit that you are trying to leave and you are unable to? Be encouraged. Paul struggled with the same and he gives us a solution as well. This is what he says in Romans 7:15 “I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” Paul couldn’t understand why this was happening, yet he said, since it was the law of sin which was exercising its authority over him, this was what he did to tame the same. He said… “…I beat my body and make it my slave” 1 Corinthians 9:27. When we learn to submit our bodies to the will and purpose of the Lord, the rest become a walk over since the Holy Spirit will be in control.
Many times, we do not tarry in the presence of the Lord so that He can deal with us. We are so much in a hurry to ask him of what we need and leave before even He speaks to us. This is what Jacob realized and he chose to tarry behind with God. When we realize who we are and what we are struggling with, we will find it easy to wait on the Lord so that He can sort us out. Do you know yourself and what you are struggling with? Are you ready to allow God to deal with it? Then tarry in his presence and He will do so. Jabez is another person who realized whom he was and what was bringing him down. The bible tells us in 1 Chronicles 4:9-40 “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" So God granted him what he requested.” If God could honour the prayer of Jabez, so shall He honour yours if you pray unto him with sincerity.
When the angel told Jacob to let him go, Jacob told him "I will not let you go unless you bless me." In other words, Jacob had realized that he was not wrestling with a mortal man like him, but it was someone who held his destiny. There are things that you will go through in your life, seasons and times will come but if you are not sensitive in the spirit to discern which season you are and what it holds for you, you will be bypassed by your blessing. (Click here to read more about the Spiritual Seasons of a Christian). The name that Jabez was given didn’t guarantee him any blessings or a prosperous and a peaceful life, but he chose to change what was meant to happen; he chose to change the Spiritual atmosphere that was decreed upon his life. Jacob did the same. His name meant a deceiver and a liar, but when he declined to let go the angel, his name was changed. Do you know which spiritual atmosphere that has been pronounced and declared upon your life?
It is so easy to sit back, have pity about ourselves and think there is absolutely no way we deserve any blessing from God! We need to see ourselves as God sees us we are HIS children and like any father - He wants to give us so much, but if we don’t even ask then we are going to miss out on so much. When you care enough to wrestle with God like Jacob, when you care enough for justice that you persist like the widow, when you Know like Paul that the new revelation of God’s presence through Jesus is just one generation short of extinction; then you will be filled with the power of perseverance to engage in prayer, tarrying in his presence and face whatever life brings your way. The deepest form of prayer is when it engages you and the life you live with God. That way we can understand that we’re not praying to a God “out there” but God in the midst of life. When we become engaged with God, God becomes part of who I am individually and corporately, where I know that I need him the most.
The first thought we might have from Jacob’s wrestling with God and the widow pestering the judge is that they were trying to change God’s mind. The primary effect of prayer as an engagement with God and life is not a change in God, but a change in us. God recognizes our needs even before we do. It’s not God who needs to change, it is up to us to align ourselves with God’s unconditional love, his justice and his compassion. Our prayer life needs to have persistence, not because God is deaf but because opening our hearts to God and staying engaged, is not an easy matter. All this may seem pretty ordinary and superficial, until we remind ourselves that practice and persistence are absolutely essential to any lasting and legitimate engagement in life, the kind that can change us if we recognize them as encounters with God. The ministry of perseverance and persistence goes on. Where is Jacob who wrestled with God now? Where can you find the persistent widow today? I pray that God will find them in the hearts and minds of people like you and me in such a generation!!
“1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2
Wow! It’s a new morning, a new day in a new month in the year of our Lord Jesus. I thank God for whom He has been to me up to this moment in the year. T’was just the other day when we were sending New Year blessings to each other and now, the year is advanced and grown. What does this depict to you and me? It reminds us that the coming of our Lord Jesus is drawing nigh and nigh and the question remains: Are you and I prepared for his second coming? Will the son of Man meet faith in us when he comes back? (Luke18:8) We are living in a changing world everyday and if we are not very careful, we will find ourselves swallowed in the happenings of the world and we will find ourselves choked and eventually our faith will have died. (see Matthew 13:20-21).
In light of this; Paul urges us as brethren that we should continually be on guard and make sure that we do not conform to the world but we be transformed by the renewal of our minds. Paul was echoing the same words that King Solomon had said that we should “guard our hearts with all diligence” Proverbs 4:23. This is what Paul tells the Romans; “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:2. When Paul writes to the Romans, he knew that this was happening/would happen in our times. You will come to realize that what the bible speaks about is what was happening then and even today, it does still happen.
Did u know that in the English language, to conform means to change on the outside and to transform means to change on the inside? Paul used these two words very deliberately… "Do not conform to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" vs2. God desires that we are changed from within but the world is only interested on the outward changes. The world concentrates only on what is outward, which doesn’t last… but God desires that we are totally changed from within; from our soul, spirit and mind and this will last forever. As Christians, we should concentrate on what is inside of us… who we are, and what God created us to be… not on material things such as beauty, wealth, power, fame and our minds should be in tune with God’s will. Our way of thinking and how we see the world should be totally different from how the world views.
It is so unfortunate that many of us die when we have not reached or achieved our dreams; visions and purposes in life for which we were created for simply because at one point or another, we conform to the standards of the world rather than us being renewed each and every day to see things in a ne dimension and thus in the long run, we lose focus on what we are supposed to be focused on and our passion is quenched. Take a look at the people in the bible. Many of them were faced with severe challenges some of them warranting death if they did not comply or conform to what was demanded of them; yet they all stood their grounds and held on to what and in whom they believed and god saw them through.
Take a look and the four Jewish boys in Babylon; Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Daniel also known as Belteshazzar in Daniel 1. When they are taken captive in Babylon, the king was looking for fin young men o serve in his palace and these four young men found favour and they were chosen. They were to be given a special diet with the delicacies that were being served at the kings table. The bible tells us that Daniel “determined in his heart that he would not defile himself by [eating his portion of] the king’s rich and dainty food or by [drinking] the wine which he drank…” Daniel 1:8. You will see later that they were healthier than those who were eating from the kings table. Yet they were feeding on vegetables and water. The four of them could have taken advantage and fed on the delicacies from the kings table bearing in mind that they had not had such food for a while since they were captives or slaves in Babylon yet, they were purposed not to conform.
In Daniel 3, we see them again still holding on. There is a fiery furnace that is lit and everyone who doesn’t bow to the image that the king had erected would be throne there. But they still remain focused. See what they tell the king: "Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up." Daniel 3:16-18 See the courage and determination in these young men but how many of us can dare to risk their faith nowadays and stand on their faith and risk their lives depending on God? They said… even if God doesn’t save us, let it be known to you that we will not serve your gods… you will realize that when most of us are faced with similar challenges in our places or work or life, we tend to give in fast so as to save our lives and we fail to trust in God.
As the story unfolds, we see that the eunuchs were not satisfied with the favour that these four young men were receiving. Little did they know that the favour was not from the king but from God. They go ahead and conspire against Daniel in regards to his prayer time. But Daniel unshaken, he goes into his house at his usual hours; opens the windows wide and lifts up his hands in prayer as he was used to. (Daniel 6:10.) How many of us compromise our Christian disciplines simply because there is something that has been said to us or someone has threatened us? Are you jobless and the only option you have so as to get that job is either to bribe or give in to sexual demands and offers so as to gain your job or retain the same job? It is time you got transformed and renewed and stood to your ground and on what and whom you believe in.
I could go on and on and speak of Esther. She decided that she wouldn’t be like another queen as others were. She stood in the gap for his people who were on the verge of being finished. She said… “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." Esther 4:16. She was not going to be deterred by the laws that were placed but she was ready and willing to die for her people rather than sit there and see them perish while she could do something. How many of us sit back and see our brethren suffering and perishing while we stand in a place where we are able to step in and help? Let us cease to be selfish minding of me, myself and I issues. Let us rise up and be counted upon. Look at Joseph. His masters’ wife saw the glory of God being radiated in his handsomeness and she wants to sleep with him; but Joseph knowing who he was he told her “my master does not concern with anything in the house because I am in-charge lest the food that he eats. I have access to everything I need and he has withheld nothing from me except you. How then, could I violate his trust and sin against God?" Genesis 39:8-9. Joseph could have taken the chance to sleep with Portiphar’s wife as there was no one to see them but he knew God in heaven was a witness to what he was doing.
How many times have we betrayed the trust that God has in us? How many times have you given in to demands that have made you conform to the standards of this world rather than you being transformed and transforming those around you? Jesus asked; will the son of Man meet faith in us when he comes back? (Luke18:8). Will God find you hold onto the faith when he comes back? Paul encouraged the Hebrews and told them: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3.
Are you ready to throw away anything that hinders you from being who you are in Christ? What are the things that entangle you that you are not able to hold onto this faith or make you compromise? What are the things that pull you back or draw you back to sin? What is that that separates you from your maker? Today, as you and I go on with the schedules of this day, I want us to answer this question that Paul asked: “Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword? For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 38-39.
“One day the wife of a man from the guild of prophets called out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead. You well know what a good man he was, devoted to God. And now the man to whom he was in debt is on his way to collect by taking my two children as slaves.” 2 Elisha said, “I wonder how I can be of help. Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Nothing,” she said. “Well, I do have a little oil.” 3-4 ”Here’s what you do,” said Elisha. “Go up and down the street and borrow jugs and bowls from all your neighbors. And not just a few—all you can get. Then come home and lock the door behind you, you and your sons. Pour oil into each container; when each is full, set it aside. 5-6 She did what he said. She locked the door behind her and her sons; as they brought the containers to her, she filled them. When all the jugs and bowls were full, she said to one of her sons, “Another jug, please.” He said, “That’s it. There are no more jugs.” Then the oil stopped. 7 She went and told the story to the man of God. He said, “Go sell the oil and make good on your debts. Live, both you and your sons, on what’s left.” 1 Kings 4:7
Many times we find ourselves in some situations that we really desire someone to come to our aid. We are so challenged and put in a fix till we feel like God has neglected us. But in real sense, that’s not the case. Paul reminds us in Hebrews 13:5 the words that Jesus promised us in Mathew 27:20 that He will never to leave us nor forsake us. He is ever with you and me and He knows and sees all that we go through. But most of the time, we tend to think and see as if we are trending/walking alone in this life each and every day, but I want to remind you this day that God is ever present and near you always. All you need is to put your faith in him and trust him in all that you are going trough.
We see this wife of the prophet in such a situation. Her husband had died and he had many debts and the debtors came and were threatening to take her sons as slaves so as to recover what her husband owed them. She is so troubled that she has nothing to do but she remembers to go and seek advice from the man of God Elisha. Elisha tells her what to do and later on we see that she was able to pay all the debts that she had and lived on the rest that she had left. Elisha tell her to go and borrow as much and many jugs and bowls as she can and then pour out the oil she had into all the vessels that she had borrowed.
If you will notice what the scripture says afterwards in verse 6 that when she started pouring out the oil into the jars that she had borrowed, the oil flowed till the last jar then when there was no more jars, the oil stopped. Sometimes, God tells us to take a step of faith and trust him totally but we do it yet with reservations within us. I believe if the woman went even to the neighboring village to borrow jars, she would get and she would have plenty of oil to sell and live on the surplus but she just concentrated in her neighbourhood. We need to stretch our faith beyond where we can see with our physical eyes. Many times we do concentrate on the situations that are so near us and thus we are not able to look ahead and see what the Lord can do. Thank God for the song “open the eyes of my heart Lord.” It is until our spiritual eyes are open, thus we can be able to behold and see what the Lord is about to do.
Remember Gehazi – Elisha’s servant? 2 Kings 6:15-17 – he wakes up only to see that they are besieged by a vast army and he was so afraid. But when Elisha prayed for him, he saw the vast army that surrounded them was more than the Syrian army. We need to ask God to open our eyes so that we can see beyond what we are facing. See beyond the storm. God tells the children of Israel to collect manna only for that day because He would provide for the next day, yet because of their little faith, some collected more and kept it for the next day only to come and meet that it was full of maggots. Sharing last night with one of my friends, he gave me a testimony and told me that “I have decided to trust in God and not allow myself to worry about my situations which are worrying”. This statement got me thinking so much and asked myself this “Have I ever had such faith to trust God in such a way?” I realized that even though I do, I always have reservations within me.
In Mark 6:34-44, Jesus tells his disciples to get the crowd seated so that they could feed, but the disciples tell him that the crowd was too large to be fed and it would require almost a whole year’s wages to have then fed to their fill. Jesus then asks them what they have and they had a boy who had two fish and five loaves of bread. Jesus takes them, prays and gives them out and tells them to distribute. Later, they collected 12 full bags of left over’s. The disciples were so worried that the people were so many yet they had no money enough to feed them. But when they entrusted Jesus with what they had, it was enough and they had surplus. The problem we have is that we want to hold onto the little that we have and we do not want to release it to God to work with it and multiply it for us and yet, when we do so, we have reservations and sometimes we end up regretting why we did release.
Remember the window of Zarephath during the days of famine in 1 Kings 17:10-16; Elijah tells her to make some bread for him and water. She tells Elijah that she has little left for her and her son to eat and then await death. But look at what happened when she obeyed. She never lacked till the famine period was over. For some of us, all we need is just to obey and release what we are really holding onto for God to move in our lives and situations. Release yourself and allow God to take control in all your circumstance. He works with what we have if only we allow him to take control. Do not allow him with restrictions. Let him have the whole of you and what you are so that He can do as he wills.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…” Psalm 46:1-2
Do you remember a time in your life when you felt really bad, you were scared, depressed, and hopeless? You felt like you had nobody to help you. You felt like you wanted to end this meaningless life and you needed a place to find refuge? A refuge is a shelter or sanctuary, it’s a place that covers, and provides shelter or protection from danger or distress; it’s a place that offers rest and security. Many times in the Word of God, we see the people who ran to God in times of trouble. They cried out to God, knowing that He would hear them and that He would be with them. They trusted that God would be their refuge. They sought refuge in God because He loved them and that He was faithful, and they knew that He would protect them. They felt secure because God was strong. They believed His promise that He would always be with them. Just like them, when we are facing trials or storms, we must learn to run to God. We need to believe His word and trust Him. He is our Father and He loves us and cares about us. We need to realize that He is sovereign, and He is trustworthy. We can rest in the midst of our storms, knowing that He is in control.
Have you ever experienced God as a fortress in your life? Have you ever asked for God’s help? Then, if God is our ever-present help, why don’t people seek God’s help whenever they are in trouble? I think there is only one reason. We don’t know God enough to ask His help. We don’t ask help from strangers, do we? We need to know God better and better day after day in order to seek His help whenever we are in trouble. How can we know God better? David suggests a way to know God better. Look at vs.10. “Be still, and know that I am God”. Being still has both literal and metaphorical meaning. Literally it means keeping the body still without any movement. Metaphorically it means keeping the mind still without any movement of thoughts or feelings. Have you ever tried to keep your mind still like that? We usually call it meditation.
If you look directly at the Sun, you cannot see it. You go blind. But you can see the reflection of Sun in a pool if the water remains still. Just like this, God cannot be seen directly. We can see only the reflection of God in our mind if and only if the mind remains absolutely still without any kind of movement. Not only Christianity but also almost all the other major religious traditions in the world tell us that God can be seen and known only with a pure heart and a clear mind. I believe our minds need a daily shower just like our body because our mind gets covered with dirt like excessive guilt feeling, anxiety, fear, hatred and jealousy. Just as a child jumps onto the lap of his mother with all the dirt on his body, and the mother washes all the dirt off of his body, we need to present ourselves to God, our dear parent in heaven, as we are, with all the dirt. If we open up our heart totally to God, He will make us clean of all the dirt. An infant can’t see very well just because he can’t focus his eyes. As he grows up, he tries day after day to focus better, and finally he gains the ability to see very well. Similarly, our mind’s eye needs focusing. Meditation is basically an exercise to train our mind to focus. If we can spend a few minutes everyday to try to focus our mind by keeping it still, we will eventually be able to see an amazingly different world.
David declares that the nations rage, the kingdoms totter. There are wars, some physical and some spiritual which are being carried out today – yet he continues to invite us to come and behold the wonderful works. Such confidence does not come from individual strength within, but from conviction that the LORD is leading one’s life even if it means death of the Lord. The devil’s purposes are thwarted by one little word. It is no secret and it is not magic; it is the Name of the LORD. It is the name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD. Our confidence and our security must come from the fact that He is God, He is unchanging, He is faithful, He is reliable, He is dependable, and He alone provides our security. He promised us in His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us (Romans 13:5). He is always with us. We can find comfort knowing that He is our refuge in good and bad times. He’s our refuge when we’re on the mountain and when we’re in the valley.
So, I just want to encourage you that whatever you are facing, God loves you, He cares about you, and He wants to be your refuge. He wants to shelter you and cover you and protect you. If you are you weary and tired, His word says, that He wants to give you His strength (1 Peter 4:11). If you need direction for your life, He wants to guide you and give you wisdom (James 1:5). If you are you sad or depressed, He wants to give you His joy (Psalm 6:11) If you are you lonely or grieving, He wants to comfort you and give you His peace (2 Corinthians 1:4). “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my strength, I sing praise to You; You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.” Psalm 59:16-17.
Don’t you ever forget that your God is a mighty, saving God. Yes, the LORD is truly and always will be the believer’s Refuge and Strength. Whenever you think things are getting a little tough or, a whole lot tough – whenever questions begin to arise in your mind as to whether God really is aware of you and your problems, remember that yours is a God about whom we can boldly say: God is our Refuge and Strength. Yes, a mighty Fortress is our God. He has freed us from every bondage which wants to bind us for eternity. He was in the ancient, He is today in your life and He will ever be such a God to the ends of time and beyond. Yes, God truly is our Refuge and our Strength.
We think times are bad but when we are betrayed by a friend, evil takes on a whole new meaning. I am not sure if treachery is that common. I have experienced it in my life, though wasn’t serious as David’s. In Psalm 55, David’s life was in severe danger over a long period of time. We are not told about when this happened, but more than likely it was the time his very own son, Absalom, usurped the kingdom from him. Instead of fighting, David organized his affairs, and left with a train of people and supplies.
What is so difficult about being betrayed? David hits on the problem when he says, “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, Then I could bear it; nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, Then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend. We who had sweet fellowship together, Walked in the house of God in the throng.” Psalms 55:12-14. Of course there is some measure of evil taken against a person. It might be theft, slandering, belittling; attempting to hurt or even take one’s life. These things are bad enough. No person likes being violated. Anyone facing such circumstances would think there is no worse than what they face. But David went through it and Jesus knows. Treachery is something worse than violence and injustice. Treachery happens when those who attack you are friends.
The closer they are to you, the more the pain. We can suspect that Satan had everything masterminded so carefully during Passion Week. He so carefully framed things that Judas, one of Jesus’ friends, would betray Him and the rest of His disciples’ desert Him. People who have experienced treachery know there is something worse than the actual violent actions. David knew if it was an enemy, he could bear it. If it was someone who hated him, this would be no problem – so to say. In this case, he would be able to ‘hide’ himself. I understand this means that the whole thing would be impersonal. He could just block it out of his mind at times. But here it was so personal. This is what he says in Psalms 55:13-14 “But it is you, a man like me, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.”
David knew the bitter pain. The very depths of pain his soul experienced was a type of the betrayal Jesus would face. We don’t find many words in the Gospel’s describing Jesus’ response to the betrayal. There was no time for that. After the betrayal, there was the mock trials, the scourging, the beatings… But all throughout this time was the intense personal pain of betrayal which neither David nor Jesus could ‘hide’ from. They were part of the tears that swelled from his eyes in His passionate crying on the Mount of Olives. The thoughts hounded Him through the trials, the accusations, right to the pounding of the nails through His flesh on the cross. What absolute misery Jesus experienced. Perhaps we can console ourselves that our treachery will never be as bad as David’s or Jesus but we still need to deal with the personal pain that we cannot hide.
We will need to wait upon the Lord. This might sound like a simplistic answer to such agonizing pain. It isn’t though. This is exactly what David did and Jesus too. You might say that such words hide from the real issues. I would counter that by saying it is only when we understand these words do we begin to face the depth of the pain. We see David wishing his personal persecutor to "go down alive to Sheol" (verse 15). But we also see how he went to great lengths not to hurt King Saul. Remember Jesus’ words, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Could they have said such words if they had bitterness in their hearts?
David gives us two sets of statements that can help us in such a time. “As for me, I shall call upon God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, And He will hear my voice.” Psalms 55:16-17. David simply says that he will bring his complaint to God. As much as it hurts him, he will go to God with it. One might think this is self-pity, but no. He is not ending upon what cannot be done but instead on what God will do. Notice the phrase, "And He will hear my voice." Waiting upon God then means bringing your pain to God in prayer. It means turning all sense of personal revenge over to the King of Justice. We are to wait upon God to rightly deal with this situation. We quickly confess we do not have the answers. We do not know how to deal with the wicked. We are too personally grieved to rightly handle it. But this does not mean there is nothing to deal with. Any such great violation will demand moral satisfaction. Only God can deal with this.
He continues to say “Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. But Thou, O God, wilt bring them down to the pit of destruction; Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days. But I will trust in Thee.” Psalms 55:22-23. This is a beautiful exhortation. This is proof that the very thing David had already done has begun to bring some sort of relief to his soul. When he took this great burden and gave it to the Lord, God actually took it. God will sustain you and me when we wait upon the Lord. In this case waiting upon the Lord means to give your burden to the Lord. What does this practically mean? Let’s take the very situation of being betrayed by a friend. You feel empty, passionately angry and very upset. You want to move from this inappropriate response to not being ‘shaken’ (Psalms 55:22). How is this possible?
Trying to summarize what David had done and fill in some of the details because he never said actually how one does this, let’s see five steps to recovering from betrayal.
a) Admit your pain. - Hiding the pain never helps. The only valid time one might do this is to hold the anguish off until you can get alone with God and not take your anger out on others.
b) Confess your misery. - This differs from above by actually stating the details of the injury. It is not enough to say he is simply injured, it is better to know what exactly was hurt, what degree pain, etc. If we stop with these details and focus on them, then it would be called self-pity. We want to go forward from here. These injuries will become what we pray about.
c) Accept the loss. - Don’t turn to lawsuits. Give up the loss of money, time, reputation, emotional and physical pain. Perhaps even the loss of friends or ministry (‘kicked’ out of church). You do hurt. But as Jesus took the pain on Himself so you now also become like Christ. What is done is done. Believe that God can do something through it all for greater purposes just as He did through the death of Jesus.
d) Pray to God. – Pray specifically over these issues:
- Tell the Lord about how bad you were hurt (and still are).
- Forgive your friend of each of the things he did wrong. (Remember forgiveness doesn’t mean you minimize what they have done. What they have done is tragic. Forgiveness means you personally will release the guilt against you.)
- Entrust them to the judgment to God. "Revenge is mine" the Lord says.
- Ask the Lord to specially heal you.
- Pledge to the Lord that you will trust in Him (verse 23). By trusting in Him, you need grace:to forgive as He has instructed
a) To forgive as He has instructed.
b) To be patient in way God deals out his Justice.
c) To be patient with the time the Lord takes to carry out justice.
e) Praise the Lord. – You will need to go one step further by praising God for the way He takes care of you. It might be public testimony or with a friend in private, but definitely it must be in your heart. Your trust in Him means that you have come full circle and are able to praise Him for the whole circumstance and how He is caring for it and you. This time also allows you to voice your confidence in God. When we do this, we sense a stronger and more vibrant faith.
For us to get to a greater level of forgiveness and trust in God, we need to go back to the very people who mistreated and abused us and speak forgiveness to them from our hearts. I know that’s hard but I dare you to try it. Suffering needs to come full circle back to praise and trust in God.