Lord, Be Gracious
Psalm 86:1-7 ESV
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me.
We all go through trials. They are part of life. No one promised us that life would be easy. If they did, they “sold us a bill of goods,” i.e. they deceived us.
And, walking in obedience to our Lord is not easy, either. He said it would be hard. He said that we would be hated as he was hated. He said that as they treated him, so would we be treated. So, he didn’t promise us an easy life. He promised us that the Christian life would be a life of suffering, but that it would reap a harvest of righteousness and of joy.
For, you see, even though we may be saved from our sins, and we may be in relationship with God, and we may have the hope of eternal life with God, we still live in flesh bodies, and our flesh is at war with the Spirit, and the Spirit is at war with the flesh. So, that is why scripture teaches that we must daily take up our cross and follow Jesus; that we must, by the Spirit, die daily to the flesh and to sin (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
And, so the Lord helps us with this process of daily dying to sin, self, and the flesh by regularly pruning and disciplining (chastising, reproving) us, and by allowing us to go through difficulties, so that we might be holy as he is holy, and so we might grow to maturity of faith in Christ. He allows hardships in our lives, too, so that we learn to depend on him and not on ourselves, and so we can encourage others, too, who are going through similar trials.
[Ro. 5:3-5; Phil. 3:7-11; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 4:12-17; 1 Thess. 3:1-5; Jas. 1:2-4; Matt. 5:10-12; Lu. 21:12-19; 2 Co. 1:3-11; Heb. 12:3-12; Rev. 3:19]
So, sometimes he will lift the burden of suffering from us, and other times he doesn’t, if it is necessary in our lives in order to accomplish his purposes in our lives. Sometimes he will deliver us out of situations where we are suffering greatly, and sometimes he doesn’t, but he delivers us through them by giving us his strength, and by teaching us his ways and his truths so that we can apply them to our lives in our suffering.
Sometimes he may remove us from a difficult situation to restore our joy, while other times he will teach us that we can rejoice in our suffering and that joy does not have to be contingent on our circumstances. So, sometimes the way he saves us is by helping us to endure suffering for his sake, and by growing us in our walks of faith through suffering.
You Alone Are God
Psalm 86:8-13 ESV
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
So, we shouldn’t resist suffering. It doesn’t mean we willfully invite it into our lives, though, unless it is just the natural result of us obeying our Lord. But, when we go through hard times, we need to be asking the Lord to teach us what he wants us to learn through these difficulties.
What lessons do we need to learn? How does he want to grow us spiritually? What changes does he want in our conduct or in our attitudes? Is there something we are doing that we need to stop doing? Is there something we haven’t been doing that he has been nudging us to do that we need to start doing? Have we gotten off the path of righteousness at all? Are we being distracted by the things of this world? Are we listening to the wrong voices? What needs changed in our lives? We need to let him teach us his ways.
God does have a purpose for our suffering. He is still God! He is still on the throne! He is still completely sovereign over all that He has made. Nothing escapes his notice. He knew this was going to happen to us before he even made us, before he even created the world. And, he had a plan for it all along. So, whatever we are going through, we need to submit to him in it.
We need to have hearts that fear the Lord, and so many do not, even so many who profess faith in Jesus Christ do not walk in the fear of the Lord. They are still worldly, still yielding to the flesh, still caught up in what they want out of this life, while not submitting their lives to the Lordship of Christ.
So, the Lord allows suffering, too, to bring his wandering ones back to him, so that they will follow him in obedience, and so that they will honor him as Lord of their lives in all of their conduct. And, not one of us is perfect.
Give Your Servant Strength
Psalm 86:14-17 ESV
O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life,
and they do not set you before them.
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant,
and save the son of your maidservant.
Show me a sign of your favor,
that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
If we are truly following Jesus Christ wholeheartedly, and we are denying our sinful flesh, and we are walking in the ways of the Lord, doing what he says, we are going to face opposition from those who do not honor Christ as Lord. And, this opposition can come from within the gatherings of the church, too, for not everyone who professes the name of Jesus honors him as Lord of their lives. Many are living in spiritual adultery against God.
Some who are opposed to us are insolent, i.e. they are insultingly contemptuous in speech or conduct (M-W). So, why are they this way? Well, they are sinners, for one. But, sometimes this stems from deep-rooted and longstanding sinful practices, bitterness, hatred, jealousy, and the like. And, sometimes this is because they have made a long standing practice of not using good judgment, but of doing what is unwise (stupid and careless). And, they haven’t changed.
They are angry people, mainly with themselves, but they take that anger out on others, and they blame others for their own sins. They don’t let go of the anger, and they don’t forgive others who they feel have injured them, and so they store all that hatred and bitterness inside of them. So, even if they appear outwardly happy, they are really very angry bitter people with bad-tempers.
So, they often end up following after their flesh and they deny the Spirit of God by their lifestyles. So, they end up doing things to hurt others, perhaps to get even for any injustices they feel they have suffered. And, so they end up plotting evil against others, too. And, they may even slander others just to cover their own hides, i.e. to protect their own secrets which they fear may be exposed. And, they may engage in manipulation and trickery to accomplish their evil schemes, too.
So, we should anticipate that we could be betrayed, falsely accused of wrongdoing, lied about, and slandered. We shouldn’t be afraid of this happening, though, not that the idea of it is pleasant, by any means. But, we shouldn’t worry that this might happen to us, for our Lord said that when we are brought before rulers on account of our faith in Jesus Christ that he will give us the words to say. So, we need to trust him, and rest in him.
So, this is a cry for help from our Lord in these situations, when we face such opposition from such people as these. We need to pray that the Lord will give us strength to endure what we are going through or what may yet be on the horizon for us. And, we can endure anything he allows in our lives because we are in Him, and we are depending on his strength to endure.
All The Way My Savior Leads Me
Lyrics by Frances J Crosby, pub. 1875
Music by Robert Lowry, pub. 1875
All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.
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