IN TIMES OF TROUBLE THE LORD IS WITH US
Psalm 37: 23-24
The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
There are many times in our lives when we feel things are so tough that we are not sure we are able to go on.
And sometimes during these times we cry out “where are You Lord? Don’t You care?”
Don’t you think that I haven’t done this over-and-over during this most desperate period of my life?
These words of Scripture were sent to me early in the morning of Tuesday this week. Bleary-eyed I read them, thought “they’re good”, and was about to consign them to the “good Scriptures that I haven’t got time to focus on cos I’ve got a busy day ahead of me” bin, when the Spirit told me “hang on! You need to focus on these words because they are not just for you but for everyone – in the church and even those outside who desperately need to know the love and care of their Father in Heaven”.
I had not had peace in my heart concerning the service for Sunday that I was about to prepare, and suddenly I had this peace and the certainty that it was THESE verses that I was to share with the church this Sunday – to remind ALL of us that “in times of trouble the Lord is with us”.
And as I lay in bed pondering on these things, the impression that I got was of people in the high and treacherous mountains, walking a narrow mountain pass with a sheer and deep drop on one side with the cliff face tight against on the other. The wind was howling, the rain was driving, and our legs were shaking with the fear and danger of the time. But the only way to get to the Promised Land on the other side of this dark and dismal mountain range was to keep on going. One false move, one slip, one stumble, and over the edge we would plunge to our death.
And then I understood Psalm 37: 23-24 for me – and for you too.
“THE LORD MAKES FIRM THE STEPS”
In times of trouble I feel as if I am travelling on the precipice. At any moment I can stumble and slip and fall to my doom.
I can stand still – wallowing in my trouble – but trying to stand still and do nothing and ignore all that is going on does not take my trouble away. It is no answer! And if I try to just ignore my trouble I will soon weaken so much that I will fall to my doom anyway.
I can go back – well, this is NO option! When we are going through a time of trouble we discover that there often is no way back – and, as I know from experience of climbing hills and rock faces, it is easier (and safer) to go onwards and upwards than to try and go back down to where you came from – it’s the descent from Everest that has killed more climbers than the ascent.
I must go forward to the promise of things being better.
But I am anxious, I am scared. I can’t do it on my own. My feet are slipping, my hope is ebbing.
There is only One to whom I can turn for help – the One who is already right by my side if only I open my eyes and see Him. The Lord God Almighty is with me. He will ensure that my steps are firm. He will tell me the right place to put my feet in this time of trouble. I might not be able to see Him, but He is there with me, and will guide me over this rugged mountain, this time of trouble in my life.
“THE LORD UPHOLDS HIM WITH HIS HAND”
There are times, there will be times, during this time of great trouble, when I stumble – when I do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, think the wrong thing; times when I am so scared that I will not be able to stay upright; times when I am so sad I will feel like just falling down.
Almighty Father God has promised that although I may well stumble, I shall not fall. He will be with me; He will be with you; He will save me from catastrophic doom – He will stop me from plummeting over the edge of despair.
And how will He do all this? He will be right there – holding me up and taking me by the hand as I go forward. I may not FEEL Him, I may not be aware of His presence. But I WILL put my TRUST in Him and in His faithful promise to be with me and keep me safe during this terrifying time.
“THE ONE WHO DELIGHTS IN HIM”
I just want the trouble to go away! I just want Father God to “zap” me into the Promised Land NOW!
But this verse doesn’t promise that. It doesn’t promise that I will not have trouble. It promises that He will be with me through the trouble.
I have to cross this dangerous mountain pass of trouble BEFORE I can get into the Promised Land.
Will He be with me? Will He REALLY be with me?
The Psalmist tells me WHO will have their feet made firm, WHO will be upheld when they stumble…
It is the “one who delights in Him”
Who is this “one”? I want to BE this “one”.
A “path” or a “way” in Scripture often refers to the passage of our life. Other translations of this verse explain that this is the one who delights in walking in God’s “way” – the one who knows that the paths that God leads us on in our life – whether they are nice, pleasant paths or tough, difficult times of trouble, are the best paths that we can be on – so we delight to be on them. How can I delight to be on the path of trouble? Only by believing that God is working all things out for my good. Only by knowing that even these paths of trouble are going to make me stronger, make me better, become a real blessing for me in the long run.
Also, delight has to do with relationship and not situation. So, it is my delight to know Him, to serve Him, to listen to Him, to walk with Him – no matter what this “walk” is, no matter what the situation in my life is at this time.
I guess, then, that “delight” does not mean so much “I’m really enjoying this time of trouble” but rather that “there is nothing better, nothing more that I want, but to walk through life with Him – He is my delight – I delight in Him – no-one is more wonderful, nothing is more precious, than Him. And if this means that I have to walk through really horrible times then I am delighted to be walking those times with Him holding me by the hand, holding me so that I do not fall when I stumble in life. For He WILL bring me safely to the other side – into the Promised Land”.
And this was sent to me on Tuesday 6th October:
Though the fig-tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the sheepfold
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
“Footprints in the sand”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lthaQbwYS5Y