So says Psalm 34:7, with the assurance then that “he delivers them.” But what does that mean? There have been a number of tragedies in our church family over the years, with the resultant questions of: Why? To what purpose? And finally, How could God make – or allow – this to happen?
Which in turn raises the question: Does God deliver us out of all trouble or lead us through it? The disconcerting answer being – both. Disconcerting because we don’t want to be delivered through our problems but avoid them altogether. The Psalmist again declaring that, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,…” Psalm 34:17,18 Notice we aren’t promised that we will never become brokenhearted or crushed in spirit, but that God is close to us in our trouble and brokenness and supports, relieves and saves us through the experience. Jesus insisting that the poor in spirit will inherit heaven and that those who mourn will then have the opportunity to be comforted by Him. (Matthew 5:3,4) In fact, that is exactly what God looks for in us; “…a broken spirit… and contrite heart, …” Psalm 51:17 (See also Is. 57:15) And while this scripture is speaking primarily of a brokenness before God in contrition because of sin, it is not too much of a stretch to see its application to our daily approach to God as well. Jesus further assuring us that the process of being truly blessed involves hungering and thirsting for completion in Him, and that as a result of that “filling,” finding mercy, comfort and peace. Paul asserting that our lives will be tested and our works’ worth revealed by “fire”; our salvation assured but for some, “…only as one escaping through the flames.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
Again the Psalmist says, “A righteous man may have many troubles,…” (Jesus cautioning that, “No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” John 15:20 See also 2 Timothy 3:12) “…but the Lord delivers him from them all;…” Psalm 34:19 Sometimes redeeming us through the ultimate “sacrifice” of death by resurrecting us to heaven. For, “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power… though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” (Once again the concept of shielding in the midst of trouble.) “These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:3-7
Peter further assuring us that, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1Pet. 3:10-12James insisting that God is ever-watchful over us, and that there is worth even in trials and tribulation; “…because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (And) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3,4 Paul echoing this sentiment when he speaks of our justification through faith and grace, admonishing us to rejoice in the hope of glory we now possess. But he doesn’t stop there, rather he encourages us to “embrace” suffering. “…because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:1-5 (See also Philippians 3:10)
Therefore, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 “…because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 Enabling us to, “Be joyful always; pray(ing) continually; giv(ing) thanks in all circumstances,…” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
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