Sure Deliverance in Times of Despair

by Chad Porter, Pastor of Student Discipleship

I waited patiently for the LORD;Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 3.41.21 PM
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure…

You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told…

As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
ever preserve me!
For evils have encompassed me
beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God!
 
— Psalm 40:1-2, 5, 11-13

 

Have you ever felt like this? I have. I wish I could say that the feeling of being in a “pit of destruction” or a “miry bog” was totally foreign to me—but I’d be lying. More often than I’d like to admit I’m stuck in the muck and despair of a given situation, circumstance, conflict, or struggle that weighs me down like a truckload of bricks. Do you know what I’m talking about?
 
How about you? Maybe you and your spouse are constantly arguing and you find yourself at your wits end. Maybe you’re walking through a tough season when your children are being particularly difficult, disobedient, or disrespectful. Maybe things in your life are changing and you have no idea what God wants from you or where He’s leading you.
 
Maybe you feel empty and without purpose, uncertain as to whether or not there’s more to this life. Well, whatever “pit” you’re in now or may stumble into in the future, Psalm 40 is a powerful and precious salve for the wounded and discouraged heart.
 
For example, in it we find companionship with our brother King David (certainly no stranger to situations of despair). He cries out to his God in distress and waits patiently for the Lord to deliver him from the pervasive darkness (v. 1). But have you ever wondered how long he waited? An hour? Day? Week? Month? Year? Longer? It doesn’t say.
 
His cries went up to a God who, for whatever reason and for however long, chose to delay His deliverance. It’s odd how comforting this is in some ways, isn’t it? To know that you and I are not the only ones who’ve experienced crying out to God with no immediate, palpable, circumstance-altering answer can, in many ways, makes us feel less alone; like we may not be the only ones who’ve ever felt as if God was silent in our suffering. God will surely deliver his people, but rarely at the speed we’d like.
 
Next, we also find in this meditation the encouragement to remember. “You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you!” (v. 5). The God who shows Himself to be living and active and almighty and faithful in His dealings with His people throughout the pages of Scripture is the very same God who works in our lives today.
 
The one who delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt through the parted waters of the Red Sea is the same one who says to us “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He will finish the work He’s started in us (Philippians 1:6). He is always with us (Matthew 28:20). He never fails to hear the cries of his people (Psalm 34:17).
 
Lastly, Psalm 40 tells us, in no uncertain terms, that our God will deliver us. He will not hold back His mercy (v. 11). His steadfast love and faithfulness will sustain us in our waiting (v. 11). Though we be weak and poor and needy, our God will take thought of us and rescue His children (v. 13). There’s no question here as to whether or not our God will act on behalf of His people in the end.
 
His merciful hand, steadfast love, and unshakable faithfulness are sure and steadfast anchors for our souls in times of waiting. He is our refuge and deliverer and He will come through—in the wisdom of His providential timing.
So, when we’re in despair, let us all look together with one mind to our great God and Father—who hears the groanings of His children and surely does not take them lightly.
 
Though we be stuck waiting in the pit, let us not think our God has left us. He has acted before and He will act again. When we are faithless, He remains faithful. Though we are poor and needy, the Lord takes thought for us. He alone is our help and our deliverer; do not delay, O Lord our God!


Got Questions?

by Justin Windham, Associate Pastor of Outreach & Discipleship

got questionsMany of us are a part of a unique generation–one that lives in the “internet age,” but also remembers a time before the World Wide Web.

In middle school, I can distinctly remember the tedious task of using big, physical, multi-volume encyclopedias to do research for homework assignments.
Yet, just a few years later in high school, I was browsing the internet to find information as though I had been doing it my whole life. Today, I can’t imagine not having the internet at my fingertips at any moment during the day.
As a child being raised in a Christian family, I learned a lot about God and the Bible through my parents and church. But when I had questions about faith, doubt, Jesus, the origins of the universe, pain and suffering, sin, and more–I didn’t know how to find the answers.
Aware of my frustrations, my parents bought me a reference book called, Where to Find It in the Bible: A Reference Guide from A to Z. I tattered that book’s pages as I would regularly scour it for biblical answers to very real questions I had.
Once our home PC became “web-enabled,” I began searching online for those same answers but quickly realized there was no “biblical orthodoxy” filter that ensured the results I found were actually from a Christ-honoring, bible-based perspective.
A few years later, a new and unique website called GotQuestions.org was published with the explicit mission of seeking “to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by providing biblical, applicable, and timely answers to spiritually related questions through an internet presence.
Since that discovery, this has been my single most treasured online resource in my personal life and ministry.
The website does not just offer certain theologians’ opinions, but uses the Scriptures as the primary source of drawing conclusions. If a potential claim cannot be soundly backed by Scripture, the claim is not made.
And when ambiguity remains and clear-cut answers cannot be arrived at with confidence, the website gives the most compelling Scriptural arguments from the most prevalent views and leaves the reader to arrive at his/her own conclusions.
I have long believed that God is not afraid of our questions. If He’s truly God, there will always be satisfying answers to our most daunting questions.
Certainly, some of those questions won’t be answered on this side of heaven, but until then, www.gotquestions.org does a fantastic job attempting to fill the gap.
To understand the depth and breadth of this resource, I’m posting their current Top 10 most frequently asked questions. Click the links to view the related article.
As much as I love this website, like any extra-biblical material, no man-made resource is perfect and no one has all the answers except God Himself. I hope you enjoy using this website, but remember to always search the Scriptures for yourself and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance as you seek truth.


Does God Owe Us an Answer?

By Justin Windham, Associate Pastor of Outreach & Discipleship

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 12.06.34 PMWhen we find ourselves going through trials, tribulations, and suffering, one of the most natural questions to ask God is, “Why?”

It’s common to think that if we only knew why we were experiencing pain, it would somehow be easier to go through.

If you are like me, you may have gotten frustrated when you ask, “Why, Lord?” and He simply does not answer–not through an audible voice, not through the wisdom of others, not through a perfectly timed Bible passage–nothing.

So this begs the question, does God owe us an answer?

In the book of Job, the title character suffers much! Experiencing death of family, destruction of possessions, disease, and more, Job is the epitome of a “sufferer.” His friends come to him and together they spend a long time pontificating about the possible reasons why God is bringing so much pain into his life.

Finally, God shows up and speaks at length. However, you might be surprised to discover that God does not ever address the answer to why Job is suffering. In fact, God asks Job an extensive list of questions!

Look at what the Lord says to Job (Job 38:2-7):

Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Job’s response to God’s line of questioning (Job 42:2-6):

I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me…I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.

God does not owe us an answer to the question of why we suffer. Can He choose to provide a specific answer? Yes. Is it a sin to ask God, “Why?” Not necessarily.

Yet, before we demand answers from God, we should learn from Job’s experience and remember that God can do anything He chooses for any reason(s) that He chooses. The comfort comes in knowing we can have full confidence that His decisions will always be in line with His character and His Word.

Therefore, we can rest assured that whatever trial we are experiencing is for God’s ultimate glorification (Isaiah 48:9-10), for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28), and for our growth in holiness as His sons and daughters (Hebrews 12:5-10).

One parting piece of food for thought: before we ask “Why, Lord?” let’s be sure to recall and reflect on the Scriptural reasons that God has already given us.

First Corinthians 1:3-7 tells us that one reason suffering comes is so we can cling all the more to Christ for comfort and then in turn be able to comfort others who are suffering as well:

God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

So the next time you experience a painful trial, instead of asking God, “Why?”, consider asking yourself…

How might I draw closer to Christ through this time and in turn encourage others who are hurting as well?