Summary: A Message from Psalms 42 speaking to the trials and troubles which we encounter.
The Answers We Need
* Two days after the 9/11 attacks on our nation, Anne Graham Lotz was being interviewed by Jane Clayson on the CBS early show and was asked, "I’ve heard people say, those who are religious, those who are not, if God is good, how could God let this happen? To that, you say?"
Lotz replied, "I say God is also angry when he sees something like this. I would say also for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said, God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace. And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life. Removing his hand of blessing and protection. We need to turn to God first of all and say, God, we’re sorry we have treated you this way and we invite you now to come into our national life.”
* In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I watched as many “religious” people went on TV and radio trying to explain away God’s control over natural events like a catastrophic hurricane and put a humanistic spin on the love of God. Yet, as I read my Bible, our humanistic and cultural concepts do not line up at all with God’s word. While we may not like to hear this message, our dislike of it does not diminish its truth.
* Candidly, every one of us is searching for answers. The specific answer we want may be as simple as an answer on a high school history test to as traumatic as asking a loved one if they want to sign a DNR order. It may be as difficult as who to marry or as common as which car to buy. The list of questions can get extensive. We are looking for answers! While we won’t answer every question life today, most of us routinely ask ourselves questions such as; “Why?” Or “What?” or “How?” or even “When?”
* From our text, let’s see if we can find some much needed answers. Now, we may not like what we find, but again, truth is truth and can’t be changed.
1. We begin with the “Why” question. Why do trials even happen? (even to good people) I suggest we find an answer in this thought, “My Trials from God.” (v3, 5a, 6a, 7, 9-10, 11a) Can you sense what the Psalmist is feeling? He is hurting, asking why, and wanting some relief. Candidly, many of us are already saying, “Pastor, God doesn’t send trial, Satan does that.” Obviously, Satan THINKS he’s sending this, but it’s God who gives the final word. Consider Job’s predicament. Satan asking for permission is chronicled in Job 1. Consider the Apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Even though Paul saw it as a ‘messenger of Satan’, God had to give His permission or it would have never happened. Years ago, I heard Mike Warnke say this, “Classification in the Navy is where they let you pick out what THEY want you to be.” In other words, you can do whatever you want as long as it helps us fulfill our mission, our purpose, & our assignment.
The Answers We Need – Pg 2
* This is a picture of how Satan is involved in your trial. God allows Satan to get all excited about trying us, but God has a backup plan.
* But God doesn’t always use Satan. The Bible teaches us that, on occasions, He does His own work. Consider Abraham. We know that God tried and tested Abraham in Genesis 22 by asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. This is one of the more well-known stories. I submit that David was tested by God when Saul was trying to kill David and David was presented with the real opportunity of killing King Saul. Consider this, what were the odds that King Saul would come into the exact same cave for relief that David was hiding in? Coincidence? I don’t think so. It was a test of David character. How about Joseph on the throne and those low-life brothers coming in to ask for help? Did Satan set up that circumstance? Or how about Daniel, the three Hebrew Boys, Jochebed, Peter, and more. God tested them, He tests us, He tests me, and He tests you. He tests us to make us aware of us.
2. The next question is the “What” question, “What comes from all this testing?” While there are many benefits from this testing, the Psalmist tells us, we get “My Thirst for God” –Michael Catt writes in the Power of Desperation that “We will never do business with God until we are desperate.” While this thought is sad, it is true. The Psalmist says, “As a deer longs (I.E. pants, panteth, longs) for the water, this perfectly describe my desire for God.” Let me give you a picture of this truth; imagine a large herd of female deer running through a dry, parch, water deprived land. They think they see water so they rush to it hoping to find nourishment. When they arrive, they are out of breath because they gave all the energy they had to get there. Their dry, parched, and sun baked lips are cracking and you can see them rooting around hoping to find a drop of water. Jesus gives us a parallel picture in His story about the rich man and Lazarus. In Hell the rich man lifted up His eyes and said, “Send Lazarus to give me a drop, not a glass full, but a drop of water on my tongue.” Can you hear the deer panting and longing for water? Please don’t miss this; God can apply pressure in your life until you respond or He can ALLOW the pressure. Isaiah reminds us, Come if you’re thirsty & Jesus says, “I am living waters.”