Summary: By keeping our faith firmly grounded in the attributes of God it is possible to go through the harshest of tribulations with inexpressible joy, even when God remains silent!
DYSFUNCTIONAL PROBLEM SOLVING
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We all know that we will face times of trials and tribulations in which perseverance is necessary to obtain spiritual maturity (James 1:1-3). Living in a fallen world one can’t help but feel the pain and groans of creation (Romans 8:22-24). Even though thoughts of our seal of salvation brings us inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8), these jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7) are fragile, easily broken and shattered. When faced with some of the most difficult trials and tribulations that life has to offer we cry out to God to hold us in His arms. When Jesus knocks at the door of our souls and invites us to dine with Him (Revelation 3:20), or to lie down in the green pastures (Psalms 23:2) or to drink from the spring of living waters (John 4:14), we can’t help but feel like we can persevere through anything. How our hearts leap for joy when His Spirit explains the spiritual realities (1 Corinthians 2:13) and blessings that we as His children have already received (Ephesians 1:3) and cannot be taken away by life circumstances. His love, acceptance, mercy, compassion and promises are part of His very nature and as such are eternally given to those He has chosen before the creation of this world to be blameless in His sight (Ephesians 1:4). Secure in our Fathers arms only to be reassured that He does good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28) is like food and water that nourishes our soul to persevere and face another day with rejoicing in our hearts!
That being said, deafening silence from God during times of distress can bring even the most of mature Christian to their knees. When these jars of clay start to crack under the pressure cooker of tribulations what is one to do when God refuses to answer one’s cry for mercy? Asaph, one of the three musicians appointed by David for worship, finds himself in this very predicament. All day long and all night he cries out for mercy to no avail. The former days when God’s presence was near and his heart leapt for joy while singing was now only a distant memory that crushed his soul and threw him into a well of depression so deep that there seemed to be no light or way to escape. So he lay on his bed, drowning in his fear that God had broken His promises to always love and show him grace and mercy.
We have all felt like Asaph from time to time. Within God’s loving arms of reassurance dare we say that we can persevere through anything, YES, but in deafening silence can these fragile jars of clay really retain unspeakable joy during tribulations or are they more likely to deeply drink in the seeds of depression? Left without any hope Asaph seeks and finds the way of escape to be found in the very character of God Himself. Overcoming spiritual depression for Asaph and for us is found not in personal prayers of “I want” this or that but in reflection on God’s providence to justly take care of His Creation! Let’s take this exciting journey with Asaph in hope that his path to escape spiritual depression might be the key to all of us feel joy, even in silence!
Attempt 1: Crying out to God
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. Psalms 77:1-2, NV
When faced with tribulations that can crush our very souls the first response is to see our situation as a problem that can be solved. There are often many possible resolutions to life’s problems that the world will try and sell to those who seek relief from pain. 1 Corinthians 1:25 states that when Christians face overwhelming tribulations they should not seek the proposed solutions of those whose wisdom is foolishness in God’s sight, but instead should cry out to God for His help. While we do not know what Asaph’s tribulation was that was vexing his heart, we do know that his first response was not to seek the council of the ungodly (Psalms 1:1) but to cry out to the Lord. The term lament means to appeal to God for aid in overcoming present calamity. With Matthew 7:7 “ask and it will be given unto you” or John 14:14 “you may ask anything in My name and I will do it” in one’s hand, many persons of the faith have boldly approached God with their cry; the natural, unaffected, unfeigned expression of pain in hope that God will grant them a path of escape (C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 56-87, vol. 3 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 312).