In Psalm 42, the Psalmist is crying out for revival. We read of a soul thirsting for God—the desire to drink deeply—and a memory of past gatherings for worship. When we look around the world, it always appears to be in need for a revival. Today, as we are experiencing life behind closed doors in isolation to heed warnings to social distance so as to help contain a pandemic, Christians are not gathering together for worship. Church buildings have closed their doors. Families are home on Sundays.
Though many churches have begun online worship, this pandemic surely can open our eyes to what spiritually is a struggle for many—even those who profess to be Christian and previously attended church weekly before this pandemic. The struggle is living before God. The Psalmist writes of singing God’s praises, and of “living before His face” which is described as his “saving grace.” Though God is ever present, we often times are not living in His presence. There is a difference. To be living before God is to acknowledge His presence, to live as He is present, to recognize Him throughout your day.
The Psalmist wants a great revival—he wants for people to draw back to God and praise Him for He alone is due praise. The Psalmist recollects a time when people gathered together to sing to God. He clings to the hope He has in God and understands that even when there is darkness all around, even when the world is so in need of a revival, that He could live in the presence of God. He could still sing praises. Why? Because God is his saving grace. Despite his flaws, despite his shortcomings, that God lifted him up through grace to save him, to allow him in His presence, to give him a taste of His goodness. The Psalmist never deserved it; you never deserve it. Yet He offers us this saving grace freely. Today may seem dark and gloomy. Today you may be sinking into despair. Keep hoping and waiting on God. Sing His praises. I pray you are living before His face. I pray He is your saving grace.
“So then, my soul, why would you be depressed? Why would you sink into despair? Just keep hoping and waiting on God, your Savior. For no matter what, I will still sing with praise, for living before his face is my saving grace!” – Psalm 42:5 [TPT]
Does God ever give you more than you can handle? That is something people debate often. Many times I hear that God will never give you more than you can handle. This is often said when we are going through something tough in life like a loss of loved one, a painful illness, or an employment layoff. As we suffer and look to friends with our tear-stained faces, we hear the somewhat comforting words, “God never gives us more than we can handle. You’ll get through this.”
When I hear these words, I consider 2 Corinthians 1:8, where it says that the people were “crushed and overwhelmed beyond… ability to endure.” They were suffering. They believed they would not live through it. I consider Job, who lost it all—family, financial resources, health. Could you handle this? Would this be more than you could handle? I know some were not able to make it through. I know some who could not take it anymore. Why do we think we should be able to face all of this, that we can handle anything thrown our way? It is not that easy. We shortchange ourselves believing it is that easy. Instead, cling to the Father.
The Bible does not say that God will not give you more than you can handle. The truth is this world is a dark place and you may find yourself drowning and unable to cope. What the Bible does says is that God “will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” In 1 Corinthians, it says that God “will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” This is talking about temptation, not about pain and suffering. This is saying that when we are tempted, there’s always a way to not succumb to the temptation. We saw this demonstrated. While Jesus was in the Wilderness, He responded with the Word of God when faced with each temptation.
Today, you may be facing something very difficult. You may not think you can make it through it. Whether it is too much to handle or just getting the best of you, know that you have a Heavenly Father Who is the Comforter. Cling to Him. Remind yourself of His promises. Surround yourself with those strong in the faith and be in continuous prayer. This great burden is temporary my friends.
“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” – 2 Corinthians 1:8 [NLT]
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 [ESV]
Yesterday I attended a family picnic and I got ketchup in my hair. My uncle made me a cheeseburger and I topped it with all the fixings – lettuce, tomato, onions, and ketchup. The wind was crazy. I believe what happened was ketchup dripped to my plate and the plate flew into my hair. I remember having to catch it a few times. When that ketchup was in my hair, I could not stop messing with my hair. It became my primary focus. I wanted so badly to get it out of my hair, though I’m sure if I didn’t know it was there I would have been none the wiser.
When we have problems in life we do the same thing too often. We know about the problem and we focus on the problem. We continue to think about the problem. We continue to consider the need to fix the problem. It almost becomes an obsession. If the problem is small, we spend our time figuring out how we will resolve the issue. If it is a bigger issue or something we do not have the means to fix alone, we continue to look at the problem as an impossible hurdle and depression sets in soon after. Sometimes we make ourselves sick as we continue to fixate on our current circumstances.
Just as I should not have been so focused on the ketchup in my hair (it was only a little ketchup and there is a thing called shampoo), we cannot be problem focused. We have a God Who is a God of the impossible. Our focus, whether we have no pressing problems or we are buried knee deep in problems, should always be on God. When He is our focus, when He is first in our life, then our circumstances, our struggles, our problems won’t control us, depress us, or weaken us. Remember, in our weakness, He is strong (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).
In Isaiah 26:3 we read, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” Do you know what is so awesome about that verse? The word keep is “natsar” which means “to watch” or “guard.” The word for peace is “Shalom,” which means “completeness” or “peace.” The word for perfect is also “Shalom.” This verse says if we are fixed on God, if we trust in Him, we will be kept (watched, guarded) so that we are in completeness and peace.