Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.Psalm 55:22
The psalmist (the rubric identifies him as David) is writing from a situation in which God’s dealings with him are very difficult for him to comprehend. Yes, he has enemies, and that’s quite understandable: seeking to live a God-honouring life in a sinful world that is desperately trying to get rid of any such influence, a world that doesn’t want to be reminded that God exists and holds man accountable, will inevitably attract strong opposition.
But his deep concern is not about this expected opposition (cf John 16:33), but that his close friend and colleague has turned against him, betrayed their mutual trust (12-14)! All he wants to do is get away from it all, change his circumstances, escape (4-8). These same sentiments could have readily been expressed by Jesus. And, like Jesus, the psalmist knows that the solution lies, not in escape, but in persisting in righteousness and ‘cast[ing] your cares on the LORD’ and trusting him to ‘sustain you’.
This is never an easy call, but are we able to leave all our hurts and disappointments in the Lord’s hands? Can we trust HIM to deal with them without feeling revengeful or spiteful? Can we remain godly when close friends let us down? Reflect for a moment on how Jesus treated Peter after his betrayal (John 21:15-17) … and how he continues to love and care for us when we let him down in our life and witness! It is not surprising that Peter reflected on this verse in his first letter (1 Peter 5:7).
“Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight.”2 Samuel 10:12
These words were spoken by David’s faithful commander, Joab, to encourage his troops as they faced the powerful and hostile Aramean and Ammonite troops. But they also have an important message for us today.
As God’s redeemed, covenant people, his ‘Church’, we are involved in a challenging SPIRITUAL battle against a world that refuses to submit to the rightful rule and authority of God’s anointed King, the Lord Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul reminds us: “Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11-13).
There are two very important things to grasp in Joab’s words: firstly, that we are to be ‘strong and courageous’ in our battle for God’s truth and his Church against militant opposition; and, secondly, that we are to leave the outcome in his powerful, sovereign hands. Our sinful, fallen nature does not cope well with hardship and seeming defeat, but our Sovereign Lord uses all such things in the outworking of his purposes for our good and for his glory! Can we trust him with this? We are to fight hard with determination and perseverance, and using only the ‘spiritual’ weapons God supplies (Ephesians 6:14-18), but we are to remember always that “the LORD WILL DO what is GOOD in HIS sight.” This might not always fit in with our ideas and plans, but then we don’t ever have the full picture as he does. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be CONFORMED TO THE LIKENESS OF HIS SON, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28-29). “Then learn to scorn the praise of men, and learn to lose with God; for Jesus won the world through shame and beckons thee HIS road.” (F.W.Faber).
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The present global crisis, with all the uncertainty, frustration and anxiety it brings with it, is a good reminder to us of the importance of Paul’s wise words to the Corinthian believers.
Ever since 1824, Carnot’s ‘Second Law of Thermodynamics’ has given us a scientific explanation of how/why ‘outwardly we are wasting away’, and now we are experiencing the reality of this law in a heightened fashion in many areas of life today. Paul gives a more detailed explanation of the effects of the 2nd Law in Romans 8:20-22: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
So, what should be the appropriate response of Christians to all this? First and foremost, it is to ‘not lose heart’! As Paul shows in Romans 8, God the Father, the Creator of ALL things, remains absolutely Sovereign in ALL the affairs and processes of his Creation, and he is using EVERYTHING in the fulfilment of his Eternal Purposes in Christ. This is the sure and certain Christian HOPE!
So let us all take every opportunity to make it very clear to a lost and ‘wasting away’ world that every day we are being ‘INWARDLY RENEWED’, as God’s Holy Spirit works in us to ‘conform’ us to ‘ the likeness of his Son’ (cf Romans 8:26-30). In the light of this, where does Paul urge us to ‘fix our eyes’? “… not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary (as shown by the 2nd Law), but what is unseen is ETERNAL.” It’s simple physics, but our ‘world-view’ makes all the difference to the way we look at the world today, and therefore to how we live and how we face the future. Is this working for you, daily?