2005-06-25 - Our Response
Psalm 6, Part 5
Essentially there are two ways we can respond to these times. First, we can respond in the wrong way. We can focus on the waves. We not only look at the problems, the concerns, the pain, but we examine them with a magnifying glass. We not only see what is currently occurring, but we obsess about everything else that can go wrong. And we tend to excuse this behavior by saying we can't help it, that we are genetically conditioned to focus on the negative.
I'm Jewish, so I'm naturally pessimistic! Some say; "If I anticipate the worst, then I won't be surprised when it happens, and will be able to handle it. And if by any strange circumstance, the good happens, that I'll be pleasantly surprised!"
But what happens is that the darkness increases, and we become more distressed. This way of dealing with life is essentially sin, for panic leads to a demanding heart. Life no longer comes from God, but from relief. We are directly disobeying God's commands.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
This passage in Philippians gives us a view of what the correct response needs to be in these painful times. There are two steps in rising from the bed of sorrow and being able to say with the psalmist:
" The Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer" (vs. 8-9).
These times are to be dealt with by prayers of thanksgiving and petition. Prayer is the weapon that we must wield against the attacks of the night. We must develop the habit of a constant, ongoing communication with the Lord. Remember that a great part of the pain expressed in the psalm came from the feeling of separation from the Lord. If we are aware of His presence, then we will derive comfort from that presence. This is what Paul is referring to when he says:
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Granted, we all realize that prayer is to be a major part of our lives, but this concept of constant prayer is something we often miss. If our lives are an ongoing conversation with the Lord, then we will know that He is with us and will comfort us. Also, as we remember that conversation is two-sided, we will hopefully listen to what He has to say, and therefore will have His reassurance that He is in control.
One way we will receive that reassurance is, as a regular part of our prayers of petition, giving thanks for what He has already done in our lives and the lives of those around us. Yes, we can pray for relief. Yes, we can ask the Lord to bring us out of our pain. If we are in conversation with the Lord, then certainly we will tell Him all that is on our hearts, including the desire to get out from under the pile. This is certainly appropriate, provided our first desire is to put His will before ours.
"And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:13-14). (emphasis mine)
By including thanksgiving with our prayer, we will find what Paul in this Philippians passage points out as a solution to fear. Remember that the key to being able to walk on water is to seek after the Lord. Consider the words of David to his son Solomon:
"And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you" (1 Chronicles 28:9).
To be continued.
Comments or Questions?