God: The Lifter Up of My Soul (Psalm 3)

The Canadian Rockies (Photo by Mark J. Booth)
The Canadian Rockies (Photo by Mark J. Booth)

Hurt and discouragement are realities in every person’s life. We have felt the painful arrow of someone’s words. We have experienced being misunderstood or betrayed.  Discouragement settles into our lives as an unwelcomed guest. Even our friends can do nothing to relieve us of our painful hearts. We don’t know where to turn.

King David had these very same experiences in his life. He had enemies who were out to get him. His few remaining friends pushed him into a deeper despair by saying that God had abandoned him. He shares his experience in Psalm 3. This Psalm begins with David expressing the helplessness of his soul: “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.” (Psalm 3:1-2)

The words: “There is no help for him in God.” cry out for an answer. We have all faced discouragement because of circumstances, people who don’t like us, and our own actions. However, when those who are closest to us give up hope for us, what are we to do? We often crawl into our shell and nurse our broken heart alone.

In the midst of the darkness of his soul, David looks up to God. Has God abandoned him?  No! He finds his hope and encouragement once again in God. He reaffirms his faith and trust in God: “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” (Psalm 3:3)

  1. God is his protector (shield) in spite of his enemies.
  2. God will be glorified, in spite of his circumstances.
  3. God will lift up his soul unto joy and encouragement in spite of his despair.

After David reaffirms his trust in God, he then cries out for God to act in his behalf. “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah” (Psalm 3:4) God is waiting for us to cry out to Him. Our Heavenly Father knows all about our enemies, pain, trials, and discouragement; however, He chooses to wait until we humble ourselves before Him. Our crying out to Him is saying: “Lord, I have no where else to turn. I desperately need you. Please come and deliver me.” God will hear our cry and respond.

David’s situation has yet to change, but he has changed. He knows that God is working everything for His glory. David no longer faces sleepless nights turning his bed. “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” (Psalm 3:5) We don’t have to lie awake at night worrying about our enemies, future and tribulations. Sleep comes when we remember that the Lord is our shield. Nothing can enter our lives that doesn’t first pass through his loving presence.

The dread of each day would no longer be a part of David’s life. “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.” (Psalm 3:6) We don’t have to wake up in the morning filled with fear of what will happen. God is in control. He is the One who restores our confidence and hope. Each day is a new opportunity to bring glory to God who has lifted up our soul

David concludes with confidence that God will show His justice upon his enemies. “Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone;thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.” (Psalm 3:7) When we turn to God, we are free to allow Him to deal with those who have committed evil, whether it be against us, or others. We are free from bitterness when we commit them completely to the justice of God.

Turning to God has caused a transformation in David’s life.  In the beginning of the Psalm, David’s soul is downcast and hopeless, but at the end of the Psalm, he proclaims that he is greatly blessed by God. “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.” (Psalm 3:8)

God transforms our despair into joy, peace, comfort, courage and blessing. God’s ears are always open to our cry. Are we ready to cry out to Him?

“Dear Lord, I have a heavy heart. My life seems hopeless. Those around me say that I am beyond your help. Yet, I know that you hear my cry unto you. Your Word tells me that you are my Protector. Help me to hide behind your shield. Give me the grace to live for your glory. Thank you for lifting up my soul no matter how low it may go. You alone can restore my hope, my joy, my courage, and my purpose in life. Thank you for hearing not only my cry, but the deepest sighs of my soul that I can’t express outwardly. Amen.”

How Can I Go from Despair to Delight? (Psalm 13)

Photo by: Karla Da Silva (Used by Permission)

Despair creates a feeling of hopelessness. This affects our  life and the lives of others.  God seems distant.  The joy of our walk with God has disappeared.  Guilt permeates our life.  We are confused.   We don’t know what to do.

David, the Psalmist, was filled with despair.  He had fought the enemies of God’s people. He was also fleeing from King Saul.  God seemed very distant to David.  He was weary.  What was David to do?

Psalm 13 shows us how to move from despair to delight.  David starts out the Psalm in great despair.  He ends this Psalm with great delight in God.   What changed in David’s life.  What must change in our lives to go from despair to delight in God?

BE OPEN WITH GOD: THE FIRST STEP OF MOVING FROM DESPAIR TO DELIGHT
David shares his feelings with God in total honesty.  God wants us to be open with Him.  We think we can hide our feelings from God, but He knows all about us.  When we are open with God, it enables God to begin his work in our lives. Here are some ways that we can pour our heart out before God.

1. I am impatient with God “How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever?”  (Psalm 13:1)  We wonder when is this all going to end?   We silently say to ourselves: “Why isn’t God answering my prayer?”  We soon develop a spirit of complaining.   We hang on to our faith, but we are becoming weary of waiting.

2. I feel deserted by God. “How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?”(Psalm 13:1b)  God’s face doesn’t shine upon us as it once did.  It seems  like a dark cloud has come between God and us.  This dark cloud can be caused by our sins, our circumstances, or our  doubts.

3. I am confused. “How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?” (Psalm 13:2a) We don’t know what to do?  There are no answers in ourselves. We don’t know where to go for help?  God’s  Word doesn’t seem to help in giving us direction in our lives.

4. I am defeated. “How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:2 )  We quit living our lives with joy.  We are going through the motions.    We feel as though we have been kicked to the ground. We can’t get up.  We just want to quit.

BE FOCUSED UPON GOD: THE SECOND STEP OF MOVING FROM DESPAIR TO DELIGHT.
Despair has overtaken David’s life; yet he remembers that God is alive.  He hears our cry.  God has the only answer to his despair.  After pouring out his heart to God,  he makes his plea unto God.  David remembers certain truths about God in his prayer that enable him to move from despair to delight.

1.God remembers me. Consider and hear me, O LORD my God.” (Psalm 13:3) When we pray unto God, we face the reality that God hasn’t forgotten about us.  We are His children.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  Even the worst of circumstances can’t separate us from the love of God.

2. God hears me.  Prayer not only acknowledges that God remembers us, but we also know that He hears us.  God is always available to hear our cries unto Him.  He hears even the most silent cry from our heart.

3. God enlightens me.  “Lighten mine eyes.”  (Psalm 13:3b)  We despair because we stop seeing life from God’s perspective. We start to view life from our perspective.  We don’t see the big picture.  We allow our circumstances to affect our view of God,  instead of allowing God to affect our view of circumstances.   When God is in the picture, we view everything from a different perspective. (See Psalm 13:4)

BE FULL OF PRAISE UNTO GOD: THE THIRD STEP OF MOVING FROM DESPAIR TO DELIGHT.
David’s circumstances haven’t changed, but he has changed.  He has moved from  despair to delighting in God.   We long for God to change our circumstances, but God’s goal is to change us.   David expresses his delight in three ways.

1. I trust in God’s loving-kindness.  “But I have trusted in thy mercy;” (13:5a)  David’s faith is renewed in God’s love towards him.   We often speak of the love of God, but forget to live in accordance to His love.  When we climb out of the depths of despair, we see the sunshine of His love again.  We delight in all that He is.  Our despair dissipates in the warmth of His love.

2. I rejoice in my salvation.  “My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.” (13:5b)  When we move from despair to delight, our hearts are open to the joy of the Lord.  We realize that our salvation not only gives us forgiveness and eternal life, but we also are a child of God.   Our Father is always ready to carry our burdens and hold us in His arms.

3. I give thanks unto the Lord.  “I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” (13:6) David’s song is one of thanksgiving unto the Lord.  When we delight in the Lord, we recognize the many blessings that we receive.  We agree with the song writer who says: “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

David’s despair turned to delight when he turned his eyes upon the Lord.  Yes, the Lord seemed distant and uncaring to David; however, David demonstrated faith in reaching out to God even when God seemed beyond his reach.  Our despair can also become delight when we reach out to our Heavenly Father who cares for us.

 

A Sinking Saint in the Midst of a Storm (Peter’s Brief Walk on the Water)

Do you ever have the feeling that you are sinking deeper and deeper into the sea of sin, doubt, despair and discouragement?  Do you feel that you are in the midst of a storm and there is no end in sight?  The Apostle Peter understood the storms of life.  He also experienced sinking deeper and deeper into the sea.  Let’s join Peter and see how he handled his sinking deeper and deeper into the sea.

The disciples are in a boat in the midst of a storm.  Jesus comes to them, walking upon the water.  He tells them: “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid. (Matthew 14:27)  Jesus always desires to calm our fears even in the midst of the greatest storm in our lives.

Peter asks the Lord if he also could walk on the water.  Jesus answers with one word: “Come“.  Jesus wants us to join him in the adventure of faith.  Peter enters into the water, and he begins to walk on the water; however, the scriptures say: But when he saw the wind boisterous; he was afraid and beginning to sink, he cried , he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:30

 What are some causes of Christians sinking spiritually in the midst of the storm?

1. Sin causes us to sink spiritually.  Peter could have thought; “Look at me, I am walking on the water.  What is wrong with those others?”  Peter’s pride could have caused him to sink.  When sin enters into our lives, we are no longer secure in our walk with Christ.  We let go of His guiding hand; so that we may go in our own direction.  There is nothing but danger when we walk separate from Jesus.

2. A lack of faith causes us to sink spiritually.  After Jesus delivers Peter from the sea, He says: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Matthew 14:31)  Peter sees the waves and the winds and decides that they have greater power than Christ.  Often, we allow our doubts to destroy our faith.  As a result, we soon sink into discouragement and despair.

3. Difficult circumstances cause us to sink spiritually.  Peter has begun his great adventure in faith, but he sees the wind and the waves.  They are terrifying, and he feels as though he has no hope.  Difficult circumstances make us forget that GOD IS IN CONTROL.  He is the Master Potter and we are the clay.

4. Wrong priorities cause us to sink spiritually.  Peter begins well.  He leaves the boat and heads for the Lord.  However, he becomes preoccupied with the wind and the waves.  We have all experienced times in our lives, when we put our relationship with Lord on the back burner of life.  We know that He is with us, but we become preoccupied with other things in this life.  Wrong priorities lead us on a dangerous pathway away from our Lord.

The Cry of the Sinking Believer

Peter sees that he is in a very desperate situation.  His life is slipping away.  He could try to save himself, but this would result in disaster.  He responds with a cry out to His Lord Jesus Christ.  “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:31)

We can describe Peter’s cry in three ways:
1. It was a desperate cry.  Peter knows that death is near.  He has only one hope. Likewise God is waiting for our cry of desperation to Him.  The Psalmist wrote:  “This poor man CRIED and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.”  (Psalm 34:6)
2. It was a cry of faith. Peter calls out to the Lord in faith.  He knows that the Lord alone can save him from sinking to the depths of the sea.  Faith is believing that the Lord hears our cries and that he will respond.  “I sought the Lord, and he heard me.” (Psalm 34:4)
3. It was a cry based on his knowledge of Christ.  Peter knows that the Lord can save him.  He knows that the Lord is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving.  As we know the Lord in deeper way, we can cry out to him with greater confidence and freedom.

The Deliverance by the Loving Lord

Jesus hears Peter’s desperate cry and he immediately responds: “And immediately Jesus stretched form his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?  And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.” (Matthew 14:31-32)

Yes, there will be times when we seem to be sinking deeper and deeper.  All hope seems lost, but Our Lord is waiting for us to cry out to Him.  His hand is always ready to pull us back out of the tempest.

“Dear Lord, there are many times that I seem to sink deeper and deeper into sin, despair, or discouragement. My circumstances seem too difficult to bear.  Help me, to learn to cry out to you in the times when I am sinking.  Thank you for always being ready and willing to pull me up from whatever is causing me to sink. Amen.”