What Are You Looking At?

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. I spread out my hands to You; my soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah. Answer me speedily, O Lord; my spirit fails! Do not hide Your face from me, lest I be like those who go down into the pit. Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.

—Psalm 143:5-8

Ah, David . . . Even as flawed as he was, what a love He had for the Lord! In all of the trials and joys of life, he ultimately turned to God in praise, in fear, in love, in need. And for our own lives, we can learn from what he describes here. His heart is overwhelmed and his spirit is crushed, and yet he remembers the days of old and the wonderful works of the Lord. He may have remembered the single rock that flew from his hands and, guided by the Lord, straight into the heart of one of the greatest enemy’s that Israel faced. He may have thought about the parting of the Red Sea, or the crumbling walls of Jericho. Perhaps he even thought all the way back to the beginning, when God said, “Let there be light!” and there was light.

As David prays, he spreads out his hands to the Lord, longing for God’s refreshing touch on him and on his desperate circumstances. In this situation, David was not unlike Gideon when he also was stretched to the outer limits: “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!’ Gideon said to Him, ‘O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about?’ ….But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (Judges 6:12-13).

I believe that every Christian has experienced these kinds of thoughts at one point or another. “Lord, where is all that stuff that we read about in the Bible?” or “Why does my present experience seem to be so different from what you promised?” or even, “How come You don’t do the miracles in my life that I’ve seen you do for others?”

Saints, you may have experienced things that seem very at odds with what we expect as Christians. Why does it seem that the Lord delivers one believer from a situation and leaves another to deal with the circumstances seemingly on his own? Why must we have to endure actual harm done to us by others; maybe even had things said or done to us that was meant to ruin our reputation? Ever been there? Ever prayed something like, “How long, O Lord, before You expose these liars for what they are and repair the damage they’ve done?”

Beware, though, when you’re thinking along those lines. You don’t want to keep your focus on the evil being done but on the goodness and beauty of the Lord, who holds your very life in His hands. Even though what we’re going through feels like it will never end, here’s what we need to remember. We have a choice in how we respond! If we focus on the harm that someone has done or wonder why God helped somebody else out of a similar situation as ours, we’ll only find despair. If we look for reasons to doubt and question God, we’ll find them. But if we meditate on the mighty, majestic works of our Father and feed on His faithfulness, we’ll find hope. If we look for His “lovingkindness in the morning” as David determines he will do, we’ll find trust and an uplifted soul.

What is it that you’re looking at? Keep this psalm in mind when you’re tempted to wallow in the swamp of despair, and keep your focus on the One who holds your hand, who sustains your very breath, and look up. “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears….The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:3-6).

Excerpt from “Beside Still Waters” now available on Amazon.

BARRY STAGNER

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