Trust Is A Must
But let all who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice, Let them ever sing for joy; Because You cover and shelter them, Let those who love Your name be joyful and exult in You.
Sometimes the stresses and struggles of life take their toll on our emotions and on our outlook. We never intend for it to happen, but gradually, our sense of joy is washed away in a sea of demands and conflicts. King David experienced the pressures of leadership, but even in the middle of pressure, he found great joy in his relationship with God.
In Psalm 5, David reports he endured the lies of “ bloodthirsty and deceitful” men who made themselves his enemies. He couldn’t trust them, but he realized he could put his life in the hands of a good and kind God who loved him.
To David, God wasn’t just a cosmic principle or a distant deity to be worshipped during certain times of the week in order to conform his life to a religious pattern. No, God was a person- a wonderful, trustworthy person he could delight in. David deeply appreciated God’s deliverance and His wisdom. In response to God’s personal intervention and care, David voiced the response of all believers who are thrilled with God: We “shout for joy”!
Our task is to turn our struggles into steps toward God instead of away from Him. We all experience difficulties at home and at work, (or in David’s case, in running the kingdom), but if we turn our gaze toward God, we’ll find Him to be a rock we can stand on in those times of stress. When we realize that He genuinely cares, we, too, will shout for joy.
Courage is nothing more than fear that said it’s prayer this morning.
One of the contemporary songs, “Raise a Hallelujah,” reminds us to sing in the storm and to give God the praise in the trial. It says that as the storm intensifies we ought to “sing a little louder.” I realize that most of us don’t feel like giving God praise when things aren’t going great and often we are so busy trying to keep our heads above water so we won’t drown in life that we are afraid to use our breath to give God praise and certainly not give Him a shout. But scripture teaches us that in all seasons, we ought to praise God.
We read of Paul and Silas who were in jail after being beaten for preaching the gospel. They could have had an attitude. They had suffered through no wrong of their own. They could have felt that God let them down. They could have been angry at their circumstances. They could have, or at least Silas could have, blamed each other for their predicament. They could have felt and responded to their situation in any of the myriad of ways we respond to stress and struggle. Instead they chose to respond with worship and praise. Their bodies were battered and bruised. Their limbs were bound in stocks. They were in a dark smelly dungeon surrounded by the dregs of society, so they could have given way to discouragement, doubt, despair or anger. But they chose to remember the goodness of God. They chose to remember the love of God displayed for them by Christ who gave His life for them. They chose to remind themselves that they had been following the leading of the Holy Spirit and that where God guides, He has a plan and purpose. It is true that at that moment they didn’t know what that plan was but they were confident in the love and care of God. Perhaps they remembered the suffering of Christ on their behalf. Paul would write, “For I reckon the sufferings of this present world are not to be compared to the glory that awaits us.” Acts records that as they worshipped and offered praise, that the presence of God filled that dungeon. The Bible says that the whole place was shaken and the prison doors were opened and Paul and Silas and all the prisoners were set free. Because they chose to trust in God and to “raise a hallelujah in the midst of the storm” God intervened for them. That night because believers chose to praise rather than grumble, the jailer and his family were brought into the family of God. If you were to ask Paul and Silas, I’m sure they would say their predicament was worthwhile for the goodness of God was made known to those who sat in darkness.
Now you and I will probably ever be physically beaten or jailed for our faith. We will, however, often find ourselves in storms and trials. We can respond with grumbling or anger or despair. We can choose to be angry at the situation and those we perceive that have caused it. We can blame God or the church or the government or our spouse or our boss for putting us in this uncomfortable place or we can choose to “raise a hallelujah.”
We have, most of the time little to no control over the factors that causes the storms in our lives but we can choose how we respond to them. Most of us have what we call “rainy day funds.” We have set aside some funds because we are aware that the unexpected can happen and when it does we will be prepared. Many, however, fail to bank their spiritual assets for the unexpected. David teaches us that if we will develop a deep relationship with God in the good times, we can draw from that well of trust in the difficult times. Like those who store up for challenging times or like those who bunker down before the storm, we can choose to develop a lifestyle of worshipping and praising God. When the storm comes, our developed habit of worship, prayer and praise will rise to the needed level and we will experience the peace and joy promised by God, even in the trial.
Let’s apply it to us. We can respond to our struggles with hopeless anger or helpless despair or we can choose to respond with trusted worship and praise to our God and Redeemer. We can choose to allow our situation to control us or we can choose to let God work through it for His glory. We can choose to grumble about our lot in life or we can give God praise for His goodness and blessing.
I close with the words from another song: “All my life you have been faithful, All my life you have been so, so good. With every breath I will praise you. I will sing of the goodness of God.”
May the people of God in every place and every situation lift up their voices in a shout of praise. May the sound of exultant worship drown out the noise of the storm. May we learn that praise breaks the chains that bind us and as we are liberated by praise that those who are in bondage around us will be made free.
Dr. John Thompson