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Recognize God’s Presence

My 5- and 2-year-old sons love to sing children’s Bible songs.  One of their favorites is “The Wise Man Built His House upon the Rock.”  Although they, along with the other kids at our church, like to make a fun lyrical change and sing “The rains came down, and the BUGS came up!”, that song helps us all remember a crucial biblical truth from Matthew 7:24-27:  if your life isn’t built upon the rock-solid foundation of God’s Word, then when the floods of life come, you will be devastated.

Loss and grief is one of those floods that’ll reveal your foundation.  It brings you to a crisis of decision.  You’ll have this monumental choice before you:  am I going to be a person of revelation and truth or of observation and feeling?  That’s the difference between rock and sand.  That’s the difference between standing and falling.  Observation and feeling will lead you to say that God’s abandoned you, but revelation and truth will lead you to say that God’ll never leave or forsake you (Heb 13:5).

Our focal text for this blog is Psalm 31:7-10,14-16,21-24:  I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul, and You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a large place. Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow and my years with sighing; my strength has failed because of my iniquity, and my body has wasted away… but as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; save me in Your lovingkindness… Blessed be the LORD, for He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city. As for me, I said in my alarm, “I am cut off from before Your eyes”; nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried to You. O love the LORD, all you His godly ones! The LORD preserves the faithful and fully recompenses the proud doer. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.

In our text, King David faces this very crisis of decision.  He was in distress (Ps 31:7) to the point of grief.  In fact, it was prolonged misery, evidenced by the wasting away of his eye, soul, and body (Ps 31:9).  There’s certainly a profound connection between our spirit and body, such that the emotion of grief takes a serious physical toll on a person.  Nevertheless, David chose to be a person of revelation and truth.  The following truths that David poeticized during his grief helped him through that valley and will carry us through as well.

Rejoice in God’s awareness and benevolence in difficulties.  Friend, God’s neither ignorant of nor ambivalent to what you’re facing.  He’s the God who never slumbers.  He’s never out to lunch or unavailable.  If someone asked God, “Did You know about…”, He would never say, “No.”  Nothing escapes His extensive watchfulness.  He is the all-knowing God of the universe, and He especially knows what you are facing.  David rejoiced because God had seen his affliction and the troubles of his soul (Ps 31:7), and we should too, finding comfort in God’s awareness.  But even more, God doesn’t just know what we are facing, He’s actively showing us lovingkindness in trials of grief by not giving us over to the enemy.  He’ll establish and sustain you such that His benevolence will shine forth marvelously.

Trust in the sovereign goodness of God.  David said, “I trust in You… my times are in Your hand,” (Ps 31:14-15).  What faith!  Did you know that God is completely in control of history?  Nothing happens that God has not actively brought about or passively allowed to happen, and if He allows it to happen, He has a purpose for that.  Did you also know that God always does what’s most-wise, most-loving, and most-just?  His ways aren’t our ways (Rom 11:33-36), but His ways are ultimately best.  Therefore, we can trust in God’s sovereign goodness as He brings about the details of our lives.  He will do nothing but bring about ultimate good (Rom 8:28).

Remember the past grace God has shown you.  One of the beauties of a life-long journey with the Lord is that you have past experiences where God has been a faithful deliverer.  This past grace encourages us that the Lord will certainly deliver future grace too.  David spoke of a time he was in a besieged city (Ps 31:21), but God protected and delivered him.  With that in mind, David was confident that God would do it again.  If you’re wondering if God’s going to grant future grace, just look backwards to past grace.  He’ll never leave you or forsake you.

May you add the comfort of God’s presence to your toolbox against grief.

-This article first appeared in the April 6 edition of the Baptist and Reflector, the official newspaper of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, as a commentary on the April 10, 2011 LifeWay Sunday School curriculum Bible Studies for Life, and can be accessed through the B&R website at http://www.tnbaptist.org/BRARticle.asp?ID=3773.  The article has been slightly edited here for westmainbaptist.com.

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