Hard Times; August 22, 2022


Psalm 35:9 Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord
and delight in his salvation.

Unusually, today’s reading has very little that I had previously underlined. The Psalm as a whole is a prayer that God would not only rescue David, He would bring the traps of David’s enemies back on their own heads. We sometimes forget that none of the characters in the Bible, or for that matter, all the believers since, had it very easy. Not all of them had people literally trying to kill them the way David did, but there are plenty of Christians even today who do. We get so soft, wanting everything to be easy! On the political/social scale, it has been said that “Hard times make strong men. Strong men make good times. Good times make weak men. Weak men make hard times.” That cycle has been carried out countless times throughout human history, on every scale from the micro to the macro. We have two bad tendencies: to want everything to be easy, and when things are easy, to stop working at making/keeping things easy. We tend to create scenarios in our minds – if this person were elected, if this condition were fulfilled – and pin our hopes on that, rather than living in faithful stewardship of all our opportunities and responsibilities. There’s no question that some things are more desirable than others, but if those things are received/achieved, that doesn’t mean we aren’t to keep pressing in for more of what God wants for us. However, we aren’t to be paranoid about it all. That’s why Jesus told His disciples, mere hours before He was arrested, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) We are to expect challenges to keep us growing, but we aren’t to be anxious about any of it.

I have long loved that quote from John 16, but that doesn’t mean I’ve always been obedient to something the Lord has told me personally: “Rest. Relax. Rejoice.” Just yesterday I had an experience that is thankfully very rare for me: I became emotionally unglued. All I wanted to do was to literally run away and hide, which was pretty awkward when this was just before the start of the church service! Five or six minor things had stacked up, and I don’t know that any was more important than the others, but the result was that I was an emotional wreck. No fun! God was faithful and I got through it without leaving the building, but my human frailty was certainly on display. I’m sure that God will use it to help the believers understand that I can’t carry this church alone, nor should I try. Participation is an issue in many if not most churches, and I think God is working on that with this church. There were no non-believers here yesterday, so I don’t think anyone was negatively influenced. I certainly don’t enjoy times like that, but I’m not to complain about them. Rather, I am to thank God that He’s still working on me, and that He will use even my weaknesses and failures to bless others.

Father, help me keep my hopes in Christ alone, even as numerous songs proclaim. Help me not trust myself, nor be cast down when my weakness is evident. May I indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in Christ, knowing that in Him I am completely accepted by You. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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