Friday, April 06, 2012
FACING LIFE'S CHALLENGES
"But I will sing of Your strength and will joyfully proclaim Your faithful love in the morning. For You have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble. To You, my strength, I sing praises, because God is my stronghold-my faithful God." (Psalm 59:16, 17 HCSB)
Life is full of challenges. Most are petty problems--annoyances to brush away like a buzzing mosquito--but others are enormous--more like a herd of stampeding elephants running toward you! Perhaps you are facing such a challenge today. God has a word to help you. We learn from a difficult period of David's life, the key to overcoming these challenges. Consider this one statement, "and this whole assembly will know that it is not by sword or by spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord's. He will hand you over to us." (1 Samuel 17:47 HCSB) It isn't our smarts, skill or strength that brings the victory, but God's supremacy!
That promise is needed because we have an ENEMY. "Then a champion named Goliath, from Gath, came out from the Philistine camp. He was nine feet, nine inches tall and wore a bronze helmet and bronze scale armor that weighed 125 pounds. There was bronze armor on his shins, and a bronze sword was slung between his shoulders. His spear shaft was like a weaver's beam, and the iron point of his spear weighed 15 pounds. In addition, a shield-bearer was walking in front of him....'Come here,' the Philistine called to David, 'and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts!' " (1 Samuel 17:4-7, 44 HCSB) Goliath was an imposing figure. His challenge went unmet. Israel's warriors, including King Saul, were paralyzed by fear. The giant was not going away. David decided he would face the challenge. Well might Goliath scorn him--if this shepherd boy had to rely on his own ability. But, David knew he could count on God. The Lord had enabled him to meet and overcome other challenges in the past (see 1 Sam.17:33-37) which firmed his faith to face this fierce foe. If you are facing such a gigantic challenge today, remember. Recall how God has brought you through other difficulties in the past. Maybe this one is bigger, but God is faithful still! Don't look to the size of the problem or the smallness of your resources, but look to the sufficiency of God! David did--and the victory was won!
Another challenge, not as enormous, but longer enduring arose out of this. It was ENVY. "As the troops were coming back, when David was returning from killing the Philistine, the women came out from all the cities of Israel to meet King Saul, singing and dancing with tambourines, with shouts of joy, and with three-stringed instruments. As they celebrated, the women sang: 'Saul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.' Saul was furious and resented this song. 'They credited tens of thousands to David,' he complained, 'but they only credited me with thousands. What more can he have but the kingdom?' So Saul watched David jealously from that day forward." (1 Samuel 18:6-9 HCSB) Persistently, for years, David will live under the threat of the king's murderous intent. Some challenges in life arise suddenly, with terrifying size, and are dealt with just as quickly--like a Goliath. Then, there is that long chronic issue that grinds away at you. With the dawn of each day, it awakens to meet you. That may be even more of a pressure than the immense crisis that is faced immediately.
How do we deal with such a relentless challenge? Can we? God enables David to ESCAPE. We read, "and Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear. As the spear struck the wall, David eluded Saul, ran away, and escaped that night. Saul sent agents to David's house to watch for him and kill him in the morning. But his wife Michal warned David, 'If you don't escape tonight, you will be dead tomorrow!' So she lowered David from the window, and he fled and escaped." (1 Samuel 19:10-12 HCSB) God made a way. The Lord delivered him. Each time was only brief reprieve, but it was a respite, nonetheless. How can you keep going in the face of an enduring challenge? One day at a time. Jesus said, "Therefore don't worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34 HCSB) There is sufficient grace to face today's challenge. Don't borrow from tomorrow's burdens. God will have that grace available then--but not today. Here is the promise, "Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out." (1 Corinthians 10:13 GNT)
One of the chief means by which God provides grace is through the ENCOURAGEMENT of others. "Jonathan then said to David, 'Go in the assurance the two of us pledged in the name of the Lord when we said: The Lord will be [a witness] between you and me and between my offspring and your offspring forever.' Then David left, and Jonathan went into the city." (1 Samuel 20:42 HCSB) It is hard to face challenges alone. While it is true that God is always with us--and that God is enough--I have found that God will often show up in the form of other believers. He encourages us through their voice, as Jonathan did for David. A small child was terrified one night by a thunderstorm and cried out, "Mama! Daddy! I'm scared! Come here!" Mom answered, "Don't be afraid. God is with you." He answered, "I know---but I need somebody with skin on them!" God shows up with "skin" on Him, through the encouraging words and soothing presence of those who love us. He knows when we need that. The fascinating thing is that Jonathan also needed some encouragement, and David gives that! Don't be so absorbed with your own challenges that you fail to show compassion to others. We all have problems. We need each other.
These challenges lead to an EXCLAMATION. This period in David's life brought out a song--Psalm 59. He exclaims his concern to God. "Deliver me from my enemies, my God; protect me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from those who practice sin, and save me from men of bloodshed." (Psalm 59:1, 2 HCSB) He expresses His confidence in God. "My faithful God will come to meet me; God will let me look down on my adversaries. But I will sing of Your strength and will joyfully proclaim Your faithful love in the morning. For You have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble. To You, my strength, I sing praises, because God is my stronghold-my faithful God." (Psalm 59:10, 16, 17 HCSB) In the darkest of times, God puts music in our soul. Do you remember Paul and Silas, backs beaten and bloodied, resting against a dungeon wall, manacled hands uplifted to God, yet singing praises to God at midnight (Acts 16:22-26)? Then, God set them free! Problems? Pour out your heart to God. Then praise Him! Deliverance will come! The battle may be too big for you, but, "the battle is the Lord's." It is not too big for Him!