Psalm 106:43 Many times (God) delivered (his people), but they were rebellious in their purposes, and were brought low through their iniquity. 44 Nevertheless he regarded their distress when he heard their cry. 45 For their sake he remembered his covenant, and showed compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love. 46 He caused them to be pitied by all who held them captive. 47 Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. 48 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. And let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise the Lord!
God’s people are nothing if not consistent – consistently unfaithful. Their love for God was hot and cold; hot when they needed rescue from enemies, cold when things were going relatively well. I can certainly relate.
If I’m honest, my devotion to the Lord tends to be so-so when things are going relatively well. I suppose I get the impression that I can do just fine on my own, with a little bit of God thrown in for good measure. It’s not an intentional thing, but it happens.
Conversely, I find my focus on the Lord at its height in my hours of need – when I’m in trouble or struggling or unsure of what to do next. From what I’ve observed, that makes me normal. But I don’t want to be normal in this regard. Normal gets me to a place like the psalmist in our passage for today: up a creek without a paddle. It’s in those moments that I realize the Lord is my paddle.
Some of you are in that place now. You look around and things are a mess, or you’re stuck in a dead-end waiting for a door to open to a better future. EVERYONE endures seasons like that from time to time. I was discussing a personal situation a few years ago with a colleague and he said, “Ernie, while you’re waiting for the Lord to open a door, praise him in he hallway!”
“Whatever dude” was what I thought at the time. When you’re struggling and in pain, praising the Lord is not often the first thing that comes to mind. But after thinking about what he said for a couple of days, I realized there was merit to what he’d told me. In my hour of need, I will tend to focus on my problem. I look around and see the hole I’m in – and begin to lose hope because the problem is too big for me.
But when I praise the Lord I take my eye off my problem and focus on the majesty of God. I think about the times he’s been faithful to me and my family. I remember all the times he’s responded to my unfaithfulness with enormous grace – forgiving my iniquity and remembering my sin no more. And I remember the promise of God in my baptism – that no matter what happens in this life, I will be raised up to eternal life on the last day along with all those who are in Christ Jesus.
When I give praise to the Lord, I realize that I may be in over my head, but there is no problem too big for my heavenly Father. And fear gets replaced with faith when I need it the most. And my heart is at peace. Let the Lord give you peace today…
Heavenly Father, today I lift up all those who are struggling and in need. When our problems are closing in on us, when we wait upon you to open a door for us to a better tomorrow, give us grace to praise you in the hallway. Amen.