Saturday, June 23, 2012

Times of trouble

Hohenzollern Castle - Stuttgart, Germany
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 9:1-20

"The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble." Psalm 9:9

The young man we read about yesterday—the one who killed Goliath, gained popularity with the people, and roused King Saul's jealousy—wrote this psalm. I'm sure you know how our story continues. A short time later Saul, who could no longer contain his feelings went after David to kill him. It drove David into years of exile and hiding—one of those "times of trouble" he referred to here.

[Times - 'et  means a particular time or period of time. 'Et describes a small space of time. It can be a season such as Passover, the rainy or harvest season. It may refer to a portion of a lifetime, such as "time of old age" - Psalm 71:9. It is also used with "time or times of trouble" (as it occurs here), "time of love" and "evil time" - Psalm 37:39; Ezekiel 16:8; Amos 5:13. - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 911.]

But in this psalm David doesn't dwell on the trouble aspect, but rather that God is a refuge to him in that time. "Refuge" is literally a secure height. David pictures God as his secure height, like a castle-fort, perched on a mountain.

As I write this, I think of my cousin's wife who was plunged into such a time of trouble last Sunday when her husband died in his sleep (with no acute illness, no warning). Yesterday when talking with a mutual friend, the pain of widowhood came up. It is one of those "times of trouble" indeed.

Of course there are many other times of trouble—extended illness, family discord, financial stress, unemployment, wayward children... Whatever our time of trouble, we too can find a refuge in God. How?

Helen Lescheid in her book Prayer: When Answers Aren't Enough gives some ways:

1. By learning about God's character (through the Bible of course and other books. One great little volume for that is Knowing God by J. I. Packer).

2. By acting on what God tells us to do—obedience.

3. By being persistent in prayer.

4. By responding correctly to hardships (those "times" we've talked about). This includes clinging to God, reminding ourselves about what's true of Him (those things we've learned in #1, and in finding and reviewing things for which to be grateful  - Helen Lescheid, Prayer: When Answers Aren't Enough, paraphrased from pp. 147-149).

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your promise to help me in times of trouble. May I stay close to You in good times as well so that we will be well acquainted when the rough patches come. Amen.

MORE: The refuge of gratitude.

"When we give thanks to God in every situation, change happens. Perhaps the greatest change is inside of us. We begin to notice our blessings—even the small ones. Hope flourishes. Perspective sharpens. we can see more clearly what needs to be done. We give God an opportunity to work His miracles within us and through us" - Helen Lescheid, Prayer: When Answers Aren't Enough, p. 151.

Read my review of Helen Lescheid's book in Maranatha News

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