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Monday, February 28, 2011

How Long?

Have you ever asked that question? 

I certainly have!  And usually it has been phrased something like this:  How long oh Lord?  How long is this going to last?  I'm just ready for a break!  This is just too hard!

I hope I'm not the only one that has found themselves at that point at one time or another.  With the way things are presently in our world, something tells me I am not alone.

One of the things I am doing in my quiet times with the Lord this year is a deliberate and slow reading through the Psalms.  I've read them before, but this year I wanted to take my time moving through them.  I started on January the first with Psalm 1.  As of today, I have only made it through Psalm 9.  The truths I have encountered thus far have been so timely and have been like a soothing salve to my soul.  Along with the Scripture, I am reading through John Calvin's Commentary On The Psalms abridged by David C. Searle.

Two passages stood out to me in Psalm 9:
"The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you."  (verses 9-10)
"The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God.  But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish."  (verse 17-18)
My family lives in an area hard hit by the housing crisis and the sinking economy.  We've only lived in SW Florida for going on four years, but in that short time we have seen so many people come and have to go; go because they have lost their homes and can't find work.  Gas prices have increased over night to ridiculous prices.  Gas is cost between $3.40 and $3.50 a gallon here right now.

Then you turn on the news and watch all the chaos in areas like Egypt and Libya.  Or you hear about the mother in Tampa, FL that shot and killed her two children, ages 13 and 16 because they were "mouthy".  Or a child takes a gun to your child's school and when facebook bullying ensues a week later upon the child thought to have turned the kid in, one of the mothers blames it on the school not offering her child counseling.  (Counseling was offered to the kids.  I wonder where this mother's sense of parental responsibility was!)

Last night, as I was reading through another portion of Vicki Courtney's "5 Conversations You Must Have Wtih Your Daughter" , I was encouraged, but reminded of the daunting task of raising Godly children in the present culture.  The enemy's attack on our families is great and only the strength of the LORD sustaining parents in today's culture will help us stay the course.

All these things and many you can think of yourself would be enough to discourage anyone; to make anyone become concerned about the future.

I wonder what your oppression, affliction or worry is today?  What trial are you facing?  It may be something seemingly insignificant as a minor "bump in the road" or it may be something huge and you wonder "how long".  Let me encourage you to read the two passages above from Psalm 9 again and let them wash over you.  In the LORD, know that your need is not forgotten and your hope will never perish.  Jehovah God is a refuge and a stronghold that can be trusted in times of trouble!

John Calvin says this in his commentary on these verses:
"If always He (God) protected us from adversity, who amongst us would not be completely attached to this present life?"
"God never says we shall not experience afflictions, but He does promise to bring us His help after we have been subdued under the cross.  He speaks of hope, not that our expectations will be instantly gratified, but to call us to prayer that His powerful hand may at least be stretched out on our behalf."
And finally consider these words from David Clarkson (Puritan writer/pastor):
"The love of Christ daily loads us with benefits.  He gives us nothing but what is good.  He blesses our curses, temptations, afflictions, sin and death, and they all prove good to us.  Even all His ways prove good to us; and not only all the ways of God, who loves us in Christ, but all the ways of those who hate us, whehter reprobates or devils.  This is the great privilege of those whom Christ loves; nothing shall befall them, but what shall prove good for them.  They may conclude, in whatever condition they are in, it is the best for them, and if it had not been so, they would never have been brought into it; and whenever it shall cease to be so, they shall be removed out of it.  This is the sweetest privilege, yet the most difficult to believe at all times, since there is often great opposition to it by our sense and reason, yet it is most true.  Christ's love gives us whatever is good"   (Taken from the devotional thoughts from January 29 in Voices From The Past)
So, how long?  I have no idea, but what I do know beyond any shadow of any doubt is that the One True God has it under His control and I don't want to miss a single thing He has for me in these shaky times. 

I pray you don't miss what He has for you either!