Trouble And Distress

Sunday, February 02, 2014, 5:37 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song “All Through the Night” in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 119:137-168 (selected verses in the NIV).

141 Though I am lowly and despised,
I do not forget your precepts.
143 Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands give me delight.
153 Look on my suffering and deliver me,
for I have not forgotten your law.
157 Many are the foes who persecute me,
but I have not turned from your statutes.
159 See how I love your precepts;
preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love.
160 All your words are true;
all your righteous laws are eternal.
161 Rulers persecute me without cause,
but my heart trembles at your word.
162 I rejoice in your promise
like one who finds great spoil.
163 I hate and detest falsehood
but I love your law.
165 Great peace have those who love your law,
and nothing can make them stumble.
166 I wait for your salvation, Lord,
and I follow your commands.
167 I obey your statutes,
for I love them greatly.
168 I obey your precepts and your statutes,
for all my ways are known to you.

The Difficult Situations

The psalmist expressed the difficult situation(s) he found himself in. He was (or felt) lowly (small; insignificant) and despised (hated; scorned; and/or treated with contempt – with disapproval). He was experiencing trouble (opposition; adversity; and/or affliction) and distress (anguish). He was suffering (afflicted; depressed; sad; and/or in misery). He also had many foes (opposing forces; enemies) which were oppressing him, among which were also rulers who were persecuting him without cause (unjustly and perhaps even viciously).

Some or all of us may identify with some or all of the emotions and/or situations presented here. I am pretty sure we have all experienced feelings of insignificance or have had people treat us unkindly at times, or at least we have had the perception that we were being treated badly or unfairly. I am fairly certain most of us have experienced times of sadness and/or feelings of depression (low times emotionally). I know I have. Perhaps we even have known (or are presently experiencing) what it is like to be hated, scorned and treated with contempt. Those types of situations may not yield pleasant feelings, nor are they, probably, comfortable experiences. Possibly we have, as well, faced serious opposition, resistance, conflict and/or disapproval from those who appear to be enemy forces, even coming from close friends, companions, family members, neighbors, church family, religious leaders, or from those who make no bones about the fact that they truly are our enemies. The worst part of all, I believe, is when we feel the bad treatment is unjust and cruel (mean-spirited).

The Remedy

For each of the seemingly negative experiences and/or emotions the psalmist was experiencing, he had an antidote. Although he was (or felt) lowly and despised, he chose to not forget (to remember) the Word of the Lord and to think, instead, on Biblical principles, teachings, instructions and guidelines for daily living, and to apply those truths to his life and to his circumstances. He also said that he did not turn from them, meaning he did not reject the Word of the Lord during difficult times, and he did not turn to sin as a way of escaping and dealing with his pain. When he felt troubled or distressed, he chose to delight (take pleasure in and to find enjoyment in) the teachings of God’s word. What helps me a lot is singing songs of praise to God and/or scriptural songs, because the WORD put to music also touches my emotional center and brings comfort and healing to my soul.

He also called out to God in prayer, asking for deliverance (release; rescue) from his troubles, or at least for the freedom from the weight or burden of his difficulties. The Lord does not always set us free from difficult circumstances. In fact, the Word teaches that we are destined for them. Jesus told his disciples that they would be hated and persecuted; i.e. that they should expect to be treated just like he was treated. Yet, we are encouraged in scripture that these troubled times are for our good – to strengthen, encourage, give hope, teach endurance and perseverance, build godly character, and to make us holy (godly and more committed to being set apart for God and for his service), as well as to give us courage and determination during more troubled times that lie ahead. As well, our Lord encourages us that he will give us his peace through these difficult times if we will put our trust in him, rest in his love, and if we will follow his lead (See Rom. 15:13; Phil. 4:6-9).

The psalmist also hated lies but loved the truth. When we are mistreated or when we even have the perception that we are being mistreated, Satan loves to whisper his lies into our minds to deceive us and to try to get us to doubt God. For instance, the psalmist said he was small and insignificant. Perhaps he was speaking of how he felt he was treated or maybe he had begun, even for a moment, to believe the lies of the enemy who loves to get us focused on ourselves and to get us to believe we are not the precious and beloved children of Almighty God that we are (sons and daughters of the King of kings). Our enemy also likes to get us focused on our troubles and to get us to feel without hope and to be afraid, and thus to get our eyes off Jesus and his many promises and his provisions for us. So, we must know the truth so that when Satan throws his darts of fear our way we can combat the lies with truth (like in the song “Voice of Truth” sung by Casting Crowns).

Lastly, the psalmist said that he waited for the Lord’s salvation and he obeyed (followed) his Word (teachings, instructions, and guidelines). I think sometimes, when trouble, hardship and difficulties come our way, we are tempted to get impatient with God when he does not act on our behalf in the way we think he should or certainly not in the timing we believe he should act. And, so we are tempted to take matters into our own hands in order to “help God out,” as though he needs our help. This most often leads to some kind of disaster, because we did not trust in the Lord but thought he needed our help, as though he is not our Sovereign and all powerful God. There is a song that says, “Sometimes miracles hide.” We can’t always see what God is doing. But, we should know that his word is true and that he will work out all things for good in the lives of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose.

As well, he acknowledged that God knew everything about him; he knew all the ways of the psalmist, and this encouraged the psalmist to obey the Word. God is Sovereign. He loves us. Therefore, we can trust him. And, sometimes that means waiting, maybe even for a very long time, believing God has a purpose. We just have to rest in his love.

All Through the Night / An Original Work / December 7, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.