Psalms 20:1-3 ESV
“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah”
We all have days of trouble from time to time, don’t we? I mean, whose life is totally free from all trouble and distress? I know no one who never faces any trouble at all. For troubles are problems, difficulties, tribulations, disturbances, conflicts and disruptions, etc. And our distresses are our sufferings, pains, sorrows, griefs, miseries and concerns. We all have them to one degree or another, but not all of us all the time.
Sometimes these just come through the normal course of life where something breaks and we don’t know how to fix it, or when the bank statement is not balancing and we don’t know why, or when our dinner catches on fire, and now what do we do? And then there are more serious ones like our whole house catching on fire, or a loved one (especially a spouse or a child) dying, or a spouse wanting a divorce, etc.
Sometimes they come through enemy combatants who are willfully choosing to do evil against us because their goal is to destroy us or to get even with us in some way because of some perceived injury we did to them. As Christians who are following Jesus with our lives, we are often being opposed and fought against and attacked and falsely accused because people don’t like the message of the gospel that we are sharing.
And since our Lord told us that sufferings and persecutions are to be expected as the norm for us as followers of Jesus, our Lord is not always going to deliver us from these troubles, but he will always deliver us through them if we will call on him, and if we will put our trust in him, and if we will believe in his sovereignty over our lives, that he is good, but that he allows evil people to do evil to us so we will be purified and made holy.
Psalms 20:4-5 ESV
“May he grant you your heart’s desire
and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!”
Our hearts’ desires need to line up with God’s desires, and our plans need to be in line with God’s plans for our lives. We can’t just choose our own course and then expect God to bless it. It doesn’t work that way. I am certainly not saying that we have to consult God on every single thing we do every day. For some things are just part of normal everyday life, like working, paying bills, cooking meals, cleaning house, shopping, taking care of family, etc.
But we should always be in tune with the Holy Spirit and be sensitive to his leading and be willing to change directions or plans if we sense he is telling us not to go in a certain direction or if he is leading us in a different one. And of course we are not to plan to sin against the Lord and to do evil and to ignore his commands and to go our own selfish ways living our lives however we want, doing whatever brings us pleasure and enjoyment.
For our salvation from sin is not just salvation from the punishment of sin so that we can go to heaven when we die. We are saved out of our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin so that we can now become slaves of God and of his righteousness, and so we can now live in freedom from the control of sin over our lives, now living godly and holy lives, pleasing to God, in the power of his strength and wisdom and according to his will and purposes.
And with regard to our petitions (our prayers), we must also be praying in the will of God with his purposes in mind, in faith, and not wavering. And where we are not certain of what his will is in a matter, we can certainly pray, “Not my will but Thy will be done,” as Jesus prayed. And if we pray for healing, but the healing does not come, and God’s answer is “My grace is sufficient,” then we need to accept that and yield to his will for our lives.
Psalms 20:6-9 ESV
“Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.
O Lord, save the king!
May he answer us when we call.”
Again, the Lord does not always remove us from our difficult circumstances. Sometimes he saves and he delivers us through them, for they are for our good, to teach us not to rely on ourselves but on God, and to increase our faith, and to teach us perseverance, and to produce in us godly character, and so we will comfort others in their difficulties with the comfort that we received from God in our times of distress, etc.
So the salvation or the deliverance is really from the effects that those circumstances may have on our lives in a negative way. And the Lord may also use them in our lives to prune and to discipline us because we have some rough edges that he needs to work on in us so that we are more conformed to his likeness and so we aren’t reacting with the flesh. Or we need to learn to forgive or to love others as he loves them.
So, if we are praying for God to remove us from difficulties, his answer back to us may be, “Trust me,” or “Follow me.” And then we need to trust him and let him lead us in the way he would have us to go. And we must trust in his sovereignty over our lives and believe that these trials have come into our lives for a good purpose and pray that we will learn what the Lord wants us to learn through them, for we all have room for growth, right?
But something we need to keep in mind here is that we need to go to the Lord with these situations and not immediately run to another human. Humans and human solutions should never be our first option and then trust God only if all else fails, which is the approach of many people. God/Jesus first, and then let him lead us in the way he would have us go. Then our trust is still in him and not in humans who are likely to fail us.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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