Summary: Overcoming hardships and distress in life by putting our trust in an unchanging God.
This psalm was written by a Jew who lived during the time of exile. Those were difficult times for the people of Israel - they were scattered away from their homeland. And as he looked at his nation, the psalmist could not see any hope of an end to the hardship his people was going through.
The 1st 6 verses described his agony. He was pouring his heart out to God. He was sad, tired, and depressed. In such a situation, there were many questions… unanswered questions. And he found himself pouring out these questions to God (vv.7-9):
· "Will the Lord reject forever?
· Will he never show his favor again?
· Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
· Has his promise failed for all time?
· Has God forgotten to be merciful?
· Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"
These are honest questions of a man who is trying to understand the meaning of what he is going through. These are questions we asked too… they are forced out of our heart when we go through hardship and pain. Has God really cast him and his people out forever?
In a situation like this, we are forced to take one of two directions. (1) we get too disappointed with God (for not helping us, protecting us…), or (2) keep praying and drawing strength and comfort from Him. One, where we lose faith, and question God’s goodness and His power… Two, where our faith is strengthen because we hang on to Him through the hardship.
A daughter complained about hardship in life. Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled 3 pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In one he placed carrots, second - eggs, and the last ground coffee beans. He let them sit and let them boil, without saying a word. The daughter waited, wondering what he was doing.
After 20 mins, he and turned off the burners. He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl, pulled the eggs out and placed them a bowl; scoop the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her he asked. "Daughter, what do you see."
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
The father explained, "Looked carefully, they’ve all changed. Each of them had faced the same adversity - boiling water - but each reacted differently."
"The carrot went in strong and hard, but came out softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile; just a thin outer shell, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The coffee beans were unique however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water."
"Which are you," he asked his daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
· Will we be like the carrot, previously very strong but the hardship caused us to lose our strength and we become weak. Lose faith in God.
· Will we be like the egg, previously gentle and meek but after hardship, we are hardened and bittered against God.
· Or are we like the coffee bean? The hot water did not change us, we change the hot water… the very thing that brings us pain. We change the taste of the water, we give out an aroma that transforms the environment.
2 Cor 4:8-9 "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
How? How do we overcome that? Look at the psalmist…
The most important verse - the turning point of this psalm - is in verse 10.
"Then I thought…" - about what? God and His deeds in the past. What God has done…
We have to think again on what God has done - in order words, we have to focus on Him and Him alone… not on your circumstances, not on your self, not on your sick body. Because only He can give us true peace and joy.
That is why there is this song: "Turn your eyes upon Jesus"… look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
Notice the psalmist says, "I will" 3 times…
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.
13 Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?
When we read the first 9 verses, for a moment we thought he is going to lose all hope. But verse 10 turns it all around. He refused to focus on his pathetic situation because he knows God has not changed. We change. Circumstances change. God will not.