Psalms 34:1-3 ESV
“I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!”
So, when this says that I will bless the Lord at all times, it means at ALL TIMES, not just when things are going well, but when they aren’t going so well, too, and even when things are just horrible from a natural point of view. I must bless the Lord regardless of my circumstances or how much pain I am in or not, or if I am treated well or if I am being ill-treated. I must give him thanks and praise no matter what I am going through.
Now this doesn’t mean that I ignore my circumstances or my pain and suffering and that I act as though all is well when it is not. That would be a sham. And it doesn’t mean that I can’t cry out my suffering to the Lord and call on him for help and mercy. For the Scriptures teach that we are to cry out to God and we are to pray for his help, and we are to bear one another’s burdens, too, which means we share our burdens with others, as well.
Now this doesn’t mean that we go around complaining all the time, which some people are prone to do, but it also doesn’t mean that we hide what we are going through from others. It is perfectly okay to say to other Christians, “I am hurting right now, will you pray for me?” The apostle Paul is a prime example of this. He didn’t moan and groan all the time, but he certainly shared with the other believers about what he was suffering and why.
But no matter our circumstances, we are to give thanks to the Lord and we are to praise him. And we are to trust our lives into his care. And we are to trust in his sovereignty over our lives, too. For, when we are able to accept his sovereignty over our lives, we are able to accept better the sufferings that we will be called upon to go through. And we will be better ready for the Lord to teach us what we need to learn through what we suffer.
Psalms 34:4-7 ESV
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.”
Now, I know I have talked about this before, some of it even recently, but it fits as a good illustration here, but I will try to be brief and then get right to the point. As most of you probably know by now, I was raised by an abusive father and an emotionally neglectful mother. The abuse from my father was horrendous! I was scared to death of him and really of anyone in any position of authority. So, even after I moved out of my parents’ home, and I got married to my husband, I carried those fears with me.
But I was a Christian, so I was working through some of these things with the Lord. But I guess I had this invisible wall of fear that surrounded me that I was unaware of, and so sometimes I was judged falsely because of it. And it was a time in my life when I was really growing in my walk of faith in the Lord, and my hearts’ desire was to serve my Lord. And our pastor asked his congregation all to fill out these forms sharing our areas of interest in ministry. But then he never called on me to do any ministry – not anything!
So, the Lord encouraged me to contact him, and so I did, and he came over to our house, and I asked him about ministry opportunities within the church, and his response was to spout off a list of character traits he assumed I had that were bad but were not me at all. And then he asked me, “Would you say you have been crucified with Christ?” I said, “Yes!” Then he said, “I would say you haven’t!” Wow! That hit me like a ton of bricks. I was crushed in my spirit. And so I retreated, for I felt all was hopeless.
So, I had 4 young children at the time. They were ages 1, 3, 4 & 7. And I was reading the story of Jonah to some of them when the Lord began to speak to my heart. He told me I was like Jonah because I was running away from this situation. And the Lord was saying to me that I needed to get back in there and fight this thing through. And in total innocence I responded back, “But Lord, you don’t understand!” I really thought he didn’t, and that he had no power and control over this pastor or over my circumstance.
Why did I think that? Because he didn’t rescue me from my father. But I didn’t understand then that is why I thought that. You see, I was taught to forgive and forget, and so that is what I had done, or I thought I had done, but what I had really done was just to stuff the pain and suffering down inside me, and it was impacting me in ways I was totally unaware of.
So, I contacted the pastor, because that is what the Lord was leading me to do, and the pastor said it was the elders who had the issue with me, so he sent them to talk with me. But bottom line, they were judging me by themselves. They assumed my desire to serve in ministry was because I wanted the attention of men, for that was their motivation, but it was not my motivation. I sincerely wanted to serve my Lord because I love him! But they were convinced that I must have the same attitude as them.
Well, the next thing the Lord led me to do was to talk with my friend and we talked for several hours back and forth, for she was trying to help me see what it was about me that led other people to misjudge me and to think I had an attitude that I didn’t have. And then all of a sudden, like a lightbulb went off inside her head, she said, “Hon, I know what it is.” I said, “What?” She said, “It is a spirit of fear.” I asked if I could be delivered from it and she said yes and so we prayed and I was delivered.
And this is the passage of Scripture the Lord gave me then, this one here from Psalms 34, that I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and he delivered me from all my fears. And now my face was radiant and the pastor and the elders saw a new me. I was the same me, though, just set free from a spirit of fear that probably had been oppressing me from my childhood. And so whenever I read this passage, this is what I remember about God delivering me when I called on him to deliver me.
Now, that was just the beginning of a long journey of the Lord surfacing all the pain that was buried down inside of me and of me giving that pain over to him and letting him heal me. And I would like to say that I stayed the course, but there was a period of time when more pain and suffering kept being dumped on me from various sources, and then I caved to the pain and suffering, and I did not trust the Lord. But I cried out to him again, and he delivered me, and every time I face fear now I give it over to him and I trust him with my circumstances, believing in his sovereignty over my life.
So, if you have had much emotional pain in your life, the kind that instilled much fear in you when you were too young to know how to deal with it, just know that if you call out to the Lord that he can and he will deliver you if you will trust him with your life and if you will give those fears over to him and refuse to let them have sway over your life. You can be at peace!
‘Til The Storm Passes By
By Thomas Mosie Lister
In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face
While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord, hear my cry
Keep me safe till the storm passes by
Many times Satan whispered
There is no use to try
For there’s no end of sorrow, there’s no hope by and by
But I know Thou art with me, and tomorrow I’ll rise
Where the storms never darken the skies
Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand
Keep me safe till the storm passes by
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