Saturday, June 25, 2011

Change your focus

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 13:1-6

TO CHEW ON: "But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation." Psalm 13:5

"How long O Lord?" David wails at the beginning of this psalm — 'How long will You forget me, hide Your face from me. How long will I need to be preoccupied with my terrible situation? How long will my enemy win over me?'

No doubt we often feel such a "How long?" welling up inside of us too. "How long will I (or someone I love) be sick? How long will I be unemployed? How long till my loved one comes to you?" "How long _____?" Put your own 'how long' in the blank.

But by the end of this six-verse psalm, David is no longer singing the "how long" blues. It ends with,"I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me."

Why the change of heart?

The turn comes in verse 5: "But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation."

David has turned his attention away from his bleak situation onto God. As he contemplates God and His qualities and attributes (here mercy and salvation) his circumstances shrink down to size.

Maybe we need to do what David did as we deal with our own 'how long' worries and complaints. He knew about God and knew God by experience. In the time of his trouble he could draw on that knowledge, shifting his focus from his problems to his God. Do we know enough about God to do this?

In his book Knowing God, J. I. Packer says:

"Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives. As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesman to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul" p. 15.

PRAYER: Dear God, as I face the challenges of everyday living, help me to study You, to know You and then follow David's example and trust You. Amen.

MORE: Thoughts of God: improving, humbling, consoling

"There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep that our pride is drowned in its infinity...No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind than thoughts of God....

But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe....

And whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead's deepest sea; be lost in His immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch or rest, refreshed and invigorated" - C. H. Spurgeon (spoken at the age of a mere 20 years!), quoted in Knowing God by J. I. Packer, page 13-14.

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