Friday, January 13, 2017

Trial template

"David Lifting Up His Soul to God"
by Franco dei Russi - The Getty Trust

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 40:1-17

TO CHEW ON: "But I am poor and needy;
Yet the Lord thinks upon me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God." - Psalm 40:17

The editors of my Bible have helpfully summed up this psalm with the title "Faith Persevering In Trial." So we know that trial will be one of its subjects. In it the writer (David) talks about two aspects of trial:

I - He shows us what a trial looks and feels like. According to David a trial feels:

  • Like it's going on too long. "I waited patiently … make haste to help me … Do not delay" He says (Psalm 40:1, 13, 17).
  • Disorienting, dangerous, life-threatening. David calls it a "horrible pit" and "miry clay" (Psalm 40:2). He's in the dark. I imagine him feeling helpless and terrified as quicksand sucks him downward. He fears for his life (Psalm 40:14).
  • Evil. He senses evil all around him and searches his own heart; maybe the evil within him is to blame for this trouble (Psalm 40:12).

II - He shows us how to bring God into our trial.
  • He cries out to God until he gets a sense that God is with him. He uses the image of God setting his feet on a rock (out of that miry clay - Psalm 40:2).
  • He praises and sings (Psalm 40:3-4).
  • He focuses on God's creativity and "wonderful works" (Psalm 40:5).
  • He re-commits himself to God (Psalm 40:6-8).
  • He testifies in church (the "great assembly" - Psalm 40:9-10).
  • After again giving in to feelings of despair, desperation, and panic (Psalm 40:11-15) he refocuses on God. He makes God big: "The Lord be magnified," even though in the last verse plummets us down to earth and trouble's reality again: "But I am poor and needy … Do not delay, O my God" (Psalm 40:16-17).

Though some of what David says in this psalm makes it seem like his trial has already passed, sprinkled throughout are reminders that he's still in the middle of it (Psalm 40:1, 13, 17). I would suggest that the things David does to bring God into the middle of his trial are things we can do too. We don't have to wait for trials to pass to sense God's presence, to praise Him, to testify to others and, if we find our thoughts again slipping into fear, to pull our focus back to God, who will also be our "help" and "deliverer."

May this psalm be our template as we go through trials of our own.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for David's honesty as he describes what he's going through. What a wonderful example hs is of someone changing his focus from trouble to God. Help me to do that with big and little things that come against me. Amen. 

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version (NKJV) Used by permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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