Summary: Trouble teaches you to praise God because He delivers you from trouble; fear God because He provides for you in trouble; and cry out to God because he responds to you in trouble.
Late in the summer of 2004, Bonnie, Charlie, Ivan and Jeanne each decided to enjoy a brief vacation in Florida. Florida welcomes a lot of vacationers to their state every year, but these turned out to be the most unwelcome guests in many years. They caused millions of dollars in damage, and when they left, everybody was glad to see them go. You see, Bonnie, Charlie, Ivan and Jeanne were not your normal guests. They were four separate hurricanes which blew through the state in one of the worst hurricane seasons on record.
Joel Ruth, a 52-year-old marine archaeologist, was also glad to see them go, but for a different reason than most. He knew that there was a strong possibility the storms might have uncovered something of value, so he began walking the beaches. He had been studying a specific section of beach in Breyard County for 20 years, but AFTER the storms he discovered 180 Spanish silver coins, in near mint condition, worth more than $40,000. The coins were from a Spanish treasure fleet, of about a dozen ships, that were destroyed by a hurricane in 1715. Then, 289 years later, another hurricane uncovered part of the treasure. (Orlando Sentinel, October 2004; www.PreachingToday.com)
That’s what storms do, especially the storms of life. They uncover treasure. They reveal valuable things. They teach us important lessons that we would not otherwise learn.
That’s what another treasure hunter, David, discovered as well. He was running from a maniac king, Saul, who had nearly pinned him to the wall with a spear. David found himself in Gath, the territory of Palestinian terrorists, back then known as the Philistines. Their dictator, Abimelech Achish, wanted David dead, because he had killed one of his best warriors, a giant named Goliath. He had routed the dictator’s entire army, and he had killed tens of thousands of his terrorists.
David was scared and in trouble, so he pretended to be insane when he was brought to the dictator. He made marks on the doors and let saliva run down his beard. The dictator thought, “This guy’s insane; he can’t hurt anybody,” and he sent David away.
It was then that David uncovered some valuable treasure. After the storm, David discovered some valuable lessons, worth much more than 180 Spanish silver coins, which he shares with us in Psalm 34.
If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to that psalm,
Psalm 34:title-3 OF DAVID, WHEN HE CHANGED HIS BEHAVIOR BEFORE ABIMELECH, SO THAT HE DROVE HIM OUT, AND HE WENT AWAY. I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! (ESV)
David invites us to praise the LORD with Him, to magnify and exalt His name even in times of trouble.
I like the way two-time Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington put it. He says, “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. Until you change it, you're not going anywhere.” (Jeannie Law, “Denzel Washington: God Has 'Faith in Me,'” Christian Post, 11-12-15; www.PreachingToday.com)
He’s absolutely right! So stop protesting and start praising the Lord. Stop complaining and start celebrating who He is.
On January 12, 2010, a massive and devastating earthquake struck just outside Port-au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti. Countless buildings in the city collapsed and over a hundred thousand lives were lost. The already shaky power grid was effectively destroyed, along with every other form of infrastructure. That night, with aftershocks rolling through the ground, almost all the residents of the city and the surrounding countryside stayed outside, torn with grief and fear. Even so, the night was filled with singing.
An article on NPR summarized it this way: “For the Western hemisphere's poorest country, the earthquake that hit Haiti... was an especially cruel blow. Despite this, it's hard to find a Haitian who doesn't profess a belief in a loving God.”
The Haitians proclaimed the loving kindness of God and they sang. You see, even when you've lost everything, you still have a song. (Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family, Baker Books, 2017, pages. 193-194; www.PreachingToday.com)
So praise the Lord in your trial.
Why? Because God delivers you from all your fears. He rescues you from your tight spots, and He snatches you out of the jaws of fear.
Psalm 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. (ESV)
Literally, he snatched me away from all my fears. Fear had a hold of David, like a lion with its prey in its jaws, but God came along and snatched David away from the jaws of fear.