Delivered from Distress

Psalm 107

“Oh give thanks to the LORD for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” You’re servant says in the 107th Psalm. Father, you are good indeed. Despite your unfathomed holiness and rightness, your love for me is steadfast and continuing day by day. I will never understand it, no one will. It is beyond understanding. Sure, we can grasp small portions of what it means that you love us. We can fathom tiny bits of why. But anyone who truly knows that you are who you are, and at the same moment knows who they are in contrast, will stand in awe and wonder at your love.

Four times in this wonderful Psalm is the phrase, “Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.” How wonderful it is that in my most downcast moments, when things around me look grim and troublesome, you answer. This Psalm sees four separate causes for the destress of those who would cry out to you. Four separate reasons.

The first shows people who simply wandered into “desert wastes” and were lost and hungry. It isn’t difficult for me to wander unknowingly into a sinful and desolate place. Though perhaps I’ll never truly know how often this happens in my life. I do long for you to show me when this happens, where I am, and how I got there. I long to grow and learn. Oh Father, reveal to me the sins in my life that I cannot see; those  I do not understand. Lead me “a straight way” that I may “reach a city to dwell in”.

The second group of people found themselves in utter despair; living in the darkness of the shadow of death. They were prisoners due to their crimes. Reapers of what they’d sown. They rebelled against the words of God. Sadly I must say this is much more like me. How often I have known sin as I am committing it and yet it didn’t stop me. And how often, oh God, have I not been led astray, but have ran as quickly as I’m able to get astray. And every time without question it has left me bare, tired, hurting, longing for love and care that can only be found in you. But, how marvelous it is that you answer my cries for forgiveness and help.

Then there were those who weren’t deliberately running against your good will but were simply not thinking of it at all. It wasn’t a thing to be on their mind. They were distracted by teethings of this world and “affliction” came because of their sin. God may you teach me to remember you. Help me in all the scheduled things in my life to stay obsessed with you; with your words. May I not get lost in the busyness of life. Rather, may I make the busyness of life about you. Never leave my mind, Father. I fear what will happen and where I will go if you do. Thankfully, I know because of the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:20 that you are always present with me in all I do; in every moment of the day. You are indeed glorious.

Finally, there are those who have endured calamity simply because you, the almighty, chose to bring it about. The writer said they were on ships in the sea when you as holy and perfect God, acted. They saw your “wondrous works” and every ounce of pride and courage went out of them. You showed them a small portion of your power and might and they fainted with fear. A small portion of your power is immeasurable to humanity. These men found themselves at their “wits end” because of the stormy sea which you command. And it was at their wits end that they thought to cry out to you, Lord. And you answered! You always do! There have certainly been times in my life that, in efforts to teach me some truth about yourself, you have brought me pain, fear, and anguish. Though much of the time the calamity in my life has been caused by my sin. I remember the miscarriage. I can remember sitting in a children’s hospital in Minneapolis dreading what the eye specialist would come out and tell Donna and I as we waited to hear if little 3 month old Wyatt had cancer behind his eye. There are other times as well. But, you are a good God and a good Father. And, during those times when my temptation is to struggle with anger toward you, because I know you are sovereign in all things, like Charles Spurgeon, may I instead learn to “kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages”.

Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

AMEN

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