Formations Lesson for January 4: Following God... In Struggle : Friday, Dec. 12, 2003
December 12 2003 by Jimmy Allen

Formations Lesson for January 4: Following God... In Struggle : Friday, Dec. 12, 2003
Friday, Dec. 12, 2003

Formations Lesson for January 4: Following God... In Struggle

By Jimmy Allen
Focal passage: Psalm 13

A Norman Rockwell painting shows a boy about 10 sitting on a stool wrapped in a checkered quilt. His mother is leaning toward him. A black and white cat sits next to the mother's ankle-length skirt, looking inquisitive about the interchange between the mother and son. The boy's arms keep the blanket taut around him while he tilts his head back, preparing for a spoonful of medicine. His whole body is tense. His mouth is open wide enough to holler. His eyes are closed tightly enough to squeeze out a tear. The boy is going through a tough time.

Those who have experienced the agony of the flu this season or any type of sickness can related to the young boy in Rockwell's world. The symptoms of flu - nausea, fever, aches, chills - can be hard to bear. We may even get to the point we can't imagine getting better. All we can focus on is the agony we are enduring.

Woe is Me

Psalm 13:1-4

Laments like this one in Psalm 13 are relevant for anyone who has experienced life. We all have lived through difficult times, and we can say those words of the psalmist as if they are our own. "How long, O Lord?" begins four different lines at the beginning of the psalm, giving emotional depth to the weariness.

The psalm is describing life in turmoil that is different from physical sickness. The psalmist is troubled in his soul. He feels separated from God. His heart is filled with sorrow. He senses defeat. He is ready to give up, conceding victory to the enemy.

If we ever wanted to believe that only good things happen to people of faith, then we should read this psalm. Those of us who have experienced spiritual lowness should be thankful the psalmist has been there, too. Knowing we are not alone and knowing we are not the only one who has experienced spiritual difficulty can help us in our own journey.

A Key Moment

Psalm 13:5a

The psalm isn't just a "woe is me" soliloquy. In verse 5, the tone shifts dramatically with one line: "But I trusted in your steadfast love."

When nine coal miners in southwestern Pennsylvania were trapped 240 feet underground in July, 2002, they were standing in 60-degree water in pitch darkness.

While rescuers worked to find a way to save them, a retired coal miner described what it was like for the miners: "It's just about like being buried alive. You don't know dark until you've been in a coal mine." As hour after hour passed, the miners could probably relate to the first four verses of the psalm.

More than 15 hours after being trapped, rescuers drilled a six-inch hole into a suspected air pocket where they hoped the miners would be. They estimated the location and declared hitting it a "one-in-a million shot." The miners were there. Although it took three more days to get them out, the rescuers were able to force air into the pocket, and heard tapping. That was a turning point.

The psalmist realized he needed to trust in God's constant, never-ceasing love. When he did, he realized he would be OK, despite the difficulties he faced. That was a turning point.

Celebration

Psalm 13:5b-6

With trust in God's love, the psalmist's dreariness was moved to celebration and joy. "My heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me" (vs. 5-6).

The psalm that began in woe ends with joy. The key was the psalmist's trust in God's love. Do we trust in God's steadfast love? When we face times of difficulty, times in which we may want to give up, are we willing to trust in God's steadfast love?

As the psalm shows, trust in God's love is the key. When we do, we begin to see that no matter what happens, we who believe in Jesus Christ have reason to celebrate. We have salvation. God has dealt His grace bountifully with us. Let us sing to the Lord.

12/12/2003 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen | with 0 comments




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