Life’s Challenges: God’s Answers

row of barriers on empty track
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Where do you go when faced with life’s constant challenges? It seems when one hurdle has been jumped, there before you, stands another. Whether it is depression, anxiety, grief, addiction, loneliness, divorce, illness, lack of finances, cultural differences, stress, and strife in the family and betrayal, there will be a dilemma that we are forced to face. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, there has always been distress and hardship for human beings.

In Genesis 3:16 (New Living Translation), God says to the woman [Eve]:

“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
but he will rule over you.”

To the man [Adam], God said:

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
though you will eat of its grains.
By the sweat of your brow
will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:17-19)

I imagine there are many who are reading this post who have or are, right at this minute, going through something difficult. I know I have my fair share of hurdles! Some I’ve jumped and cleared and others I’ve tripped and fell! 

Before I get going on this post, I do want to say that I am sorry to those who are having a hard time right now (myself included) and I would love the opportunity to pray for you. Please reach out to my personal email, ourheavenlyprize@yahoo.com and I will take your prayer request to the Lord and send prayer and inspiration back to you! All prayer requests will remain anonymous. I promise. And, if not a prayer request, I would love to hear some good news. I am working on a Facebook page (this is the only social media that I am somewhat familiar with) and it would be so encouraging to share uplifting words and stories on this page. I will not use names; I know, I need a little bit of help and hope and there is nothing like a feel-good story!! Thank you!

Okay, now let me share what I have been up to the past week or so!

I am currently reading the Psalms but in a very different format as I have done in the past. I am finding much more strength, especially during this pandemic, in the faith, trust, words, and actions of David (who is the main character in what I have read so far) and in the answers of God regarding David’s prayers. God’s faithfulness to a man who has committed some terrible offenses towards God and others is certainly hopeful! 

In Psalm 7 (English Standard Version), David is feeling concerned over the words of Cush who is a Benjaminite, an enemy of David, and a kinsman of Saul. God chose Saul to be the King of Israel because he was tall and striking in appearance and was known for courage and generosity. This, however, did not mean that Saul was capable of being king. He was the ideal vision of a king but his tendencies often went against God’s commands for a king. His greatest victories came from his obedience to God’s instructions and his failures came when he rebelled against God and made his own decisions. It is because of his sinful nature that he grew jealous of David and tried to kill him. (New Living Translation, 2015). 

This is why we find David in such a state of chaotic emotion. He has enemies and they have caused him to run off and hide, to seek comfort and safety in the arms of God Almighty and God does not disappoint. In Psalm 7:1, David cries out:

“O LORD my God, in you do I take
refuge;
save me from all my pursuers and
deliver me…”

This fierce fellowship with God is good for our hearts to witness. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and if He delivered David in his sinful circumstances, He will do the same for those who have received Jesus as their Lord and Savior. David displays his trust in God effectively and beautifully; he surrenders all to God because he knows he is held firmly in his Father’s mighty and capable hands. He simply gets quiet and lays all his burdens down, fully aware that he is not alone and that God does hear his prayers and He does answer. David is confident in his requests and waits for God’s perfect peace to fill him. He will be saved from all those who pursue him. The same holds true for us because what God did then, He does today, and He will do tomorrow. 

Matthew Henry’s Commentary (1960, p. 584) says that David’s spirit was not ruffled by the anger and pursuit of his enemies and it did not jar his song to the Lord and because of David’s unshakable peace and courageous faith, we are confirmed that we may rise to the same height as David because of God’s love for us. The injuries we receive from others should not provoke vengeance, cause sorrow and bitterness, or feelings of rejection. Instead, we should be moved to get quiet with God, and while in this act of reverence for our Lord and Savior, our devoted hearts will increase, ignite and propel us forward, no matter the circumstance. Is this not a powerful and staggering promise! 

David goes on to say in vv. 3-5:

“O LORD my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without
cause,
let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust.”

The ESV (2008, p.1061) says that David is claiming his innocence. He did not instigate the warring against him. The jealousy of Saul was something within Saul and not something brought about by David.

There is much more to this plotline but now is not the time. 

Let us take a look at the bigger picture here and that is God’s plan for restoring humanity back to its original state before Adam and Eve offended God by eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “you shall not eat [the fruit of this tree], for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). God orchestrated the chain of events in David’s life with the intention of paving the way for His Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. We know this because 2 Samuel 7 is all about the Lord’s covenant promise to David.

In short, a prophet named Nathan is instructed by God to tell David that when it is his time to die and he is buried with his ancestors:

“I [God] will raise up one of his descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house–a temple–for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. But my favor will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from your sight. Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.”

God gave guidance and protection to David because it was from his line that Jesus would emerge.

Isaiah 11:1-2; 10 (NLT) confirms this:

A Branch from David’s Line

“Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot-
yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him–
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
In that day the heir to David’s throne
will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The nations will rally to him,
and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.”

Without David and most importantly without Jesus Christ, we would all be lost, eternally separated from God and John 3:16 (ESV) tells us, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Let’s explore v. 5:

“let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust.”

In all my Bibles and commentaries (not that I have a lot), I could not find a definitive explanation to this verse and for some reason, I am held in the last sentence, “lay my glory in the dust.” So, may I try and interpret it myself and if there are any Biblical experts out there, please feel free to jump in!

I take this as saying that our best posture in tough situations is to prayerfully sit and lean into God. It is when we are in this state of vulnerability that all self-glory is brought into question and swept out. This position is where God’s miraculous work occurs. We are of no use to God when we are puffed up and on a mission.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT), “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

That’s all I have got for now regarding Psalm 7! I am ever so grateful for my college courses, “Western Culture” and “Survey of the Old and New Testament.” In taking these classes, my eyes have been opened to God’s story rather than my own. The relief I feel inside that my story really has nothing to do with God’s and God’s story is so much better for all of us.

In summary, I am incredibly full of “want” right now and as I was trying to explain to my husband yesterday during our walk, in which I failed completely because I could not find the right words but in simple terms, I want to be used fully for the glory of God. There is not a lick of know-how within me and I am totally incapable of doing anything without the Holy Spirit’s guidance. He is with me but I keep hearing “wait” which is really hard because there is such a need to serve, in some capacity, within me. I don’t know where and I don’t know how! Like David, we must trust in the LORD, have faith that He hears our heart’s desires, and that He will answer.

The past few years have been all about self-glory, I did not realize it then, but I do realize it now (as much as I am able) and for this, I am so sorry! I am in a state of vulnerability and weakness and it is not sadness only a realization that my want is not going to be the same as God’s want and that is exactly where I want to be positioned. There is nothing in me that will make a difference. It is only by God’s glorious hand that life-saving differences happen.

We must not be rattled by our troubles, we must always be patient, always be praying, enjoying God’s presence, and allow Him to dictate our next steps. Easier said than done, I know and as I was walking this morning, my mind and heart were racing with all kinds of godly possibilities. I was jumping ahead of God’s plan and like Dr. Anthony George mentioned this morning from First Baptist Atlanta, reel in the imagination and allow God to do the rest and Dr. Charles Stanley says that we are to trust God and leave all the circumstances to Him. We cannot hurry God and when we do, discord is sure to follow. We are to wait in obedience. It may seem like nothing is happening but He is surely at work and His timing is perfect.  

Father, 

Thank you for these timely words! Thank you for your faithfulness, patience, love, guidance, and protection. Thank you for Jesus Christ. Thank you we do not have to walk this life without You, that you are always for us and not against us. You never leave us nor fail us. You are Almighty God the creator of Heaven and Earth and we praise your Holy and Heavenly Name! Thank you for your strength, perseverance, and endurance. Thank you for opening our hearts to hear you and thank you for the courage to carry out your commands. Help us to love you with all our heart, soul and mind and help us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Help us to always be full of joy in the Lord and help us to always seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously. Thank you we can ask and we shall receive. Thank you we can seek and we shall find. Thank you we can knock and the door will be opened. How good you are to us, Father. Thank you for your inspired Word. Thank you for your rescue, redemption, and restoration. Thank you Jesus, His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Thank you for the Holy Spirit.

For all those who are struggling, Father, lift them into your ever-loving arms and whisper sweet words of love into their hearts. Help them in their weakness. Provide in their lack. And help them to have greater wisdom and understanding and a deeper knowledge of you. Father,

As Psalm 7:9-11 declares:

“Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to
an end,
and may you establish the righteous–
you who test the minds and hearts,
O righteous God!
My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart.
God is a righteous judge,
and a God who feels indignation every day.”

Father, we hold fast to your Word and we thank you for your story! In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen! 

References

English Standard Version. (2008). The esv study bible. Crossway.

New Living Translation. (2015). Life application study bible. Tyndale House Publishers. 

Matthew Henry’s Commentary. (1960). Matthew henry’s commentary: In one volume. ZONDERVAN ACADEMIC. 

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