Psalm 13:1-6

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

When we know the Truth… when we have an understanding of how things ought to be… when we know our God as Savior and Lord, it is a profoundly difficult thing to be confronted with the awful fallen reality of this world. This distressing fallen reality can include our very selves, others, and creation itself. It is during these times, that we are overwhelmingly tempted to be in control. To take the quickest path of least resistance, which will change the present circumstance to be more like the way we think it should be. We can easily see examples of how foolish this can be when we observe addictions, or immature actions of children, or the consequences experienced by those who have found themselves in trouble with the law.

It is harder to see it in the same light when we find ourselves in a situation that demands God’s justice, and the crushing force of its weight is focused squarely on us. David realizes here in verse 2 that if he tries to work out his problems through his own resources, he will have nothing but sorrow. The reality described however, is that even though David is pleading for the good and perfect answer he knows God will bring, it is nowhere to be found at the present time, and he has no way of knowing just how long it will be before God reveals it. Hope and patience are wonderful gifts whose existence become tangible under such circumstances. David puts all his trust, all his faith through which he knows he has the assurance of things hoped for, (Heb. 11:1) in the steadfast love he has already experienced in the Father.

The concluding verse in Psalm 13 is a wonderful and powerful declaration that things will absolutely and confidently be resolved according to God’s good plan and perfect timing. The psalmist will rejoice and offer sincere praise to God alone, and it will not be because ‘he got it right’, or ‘did what it took’ but because of God’s abundant grace demonstrated in a manner that glorifies Him, and perhaps in ways we could never imagine. If we refuse to wait and suffer for ‘a little while’ we might miss out entirely on the greater thing that God wants to freely give.

Lord, help us to wait on you and trust in your steadfast love. Open our eyes that we may see how bountifully you have indeed dealt with us. Let us rejoice in your salvation.

– Glenn Wilder

Psalm 61:1-3

Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.

Not too long ago, I took my older teen to the oral surgeon to get his wisdom teeth removed. We arrived on time, but we were not called immediately. Their office phone was ringing constantly, and I realized that the calls had to do with complicated recoveries. My thought process began to shift to worrying about the procedure my son was about to undergo. We were already told his recovery might be difficult because of a pre-existing medical condition. Because worrying is one of my prominent sin struggles, I am pretty sure that the enemy had something to do with those phone calls coming in when they did.

When I am dealing with fear and anxiety, I often turn to the psalms. Psalm 61 was most likely written by David when he was in hiding, and it encourages us to lift our concerns up to God. He does not give us a spirit of fear. That is from the enemy. Our God is our strong tower from the enemy, and He never leaves us helpless. The “rock that is higher than I” is a wonderful image of safety. It is good to know that when our hearts are overwhelmed, we can rest secure in the hands of our Father.

Father, please give us a spirit of humility, so that what You say in your Word overrules how we feel. Your Word says that you have not given us a spirit of fear, and that you will provide refuge from the one who does. May we find comfort in these truths today.

– Tricia Durst

Psalm 97:1-5

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.

In the Philippines, where I grew up, about 35 miles south of the capital city of Manila, there is a resort town called Tagaytay, perched on a ridge overlooking a scenic placid lake, blessed with cool mountain zephyrs bringing respite from the oppressive humid heat of the tropical lowlands. It is an idyllic place, with verdant hillside pastures dotted with lazily grazing horses and cows, and orchards laden with every kind of sweet tropical fruit thriving on rich volcanic soil, interspersed among lush wooded areas. It is an oasis of tranquility, seemingly far removed from the towering structures of steel, concrete and glass crowded with 13 million people just a few miles north.

At its centerpiece is a small picturesque volcano on an island in the middle of a large lake. This is Taal volcano, widely considered to be the smallest active true volcano in the world. Because its last major eruption was 55 years ago, in 1965, people have become comfortable with it. There are tours that take visitors by boat to Volcano island and then by horseback to the very lip of the crater to gaze down into the mile-wide Crater lake – our two children and their spouses among them 2 years ago. Tagaytay has flourished due to increased tourism, now flush with enclaves of affluence: luxury condominiums, resorts, hotels, resorts and amusement centers. Privileged people enjoyed the good life, seemingly in control of their circumstances, masters of their fate.

Then things changed overnight. On January 12, 2020, with hardly any warning, a huge column of volcanic ash, microscopic shards of glass, superheated steam and toxic fumes extending 15 miles into the air erupted from Taal volcano and rapidly spread to the surrounding towns including the resort town of Tagaytay. Lava spewed from the crater which appeared to be on fire. Images of the awe-inspiring bolts of volcanic lightning emanating from within the dark pyroclastic cloud are forever seared in my mind. All people, whether rich or poor, fled for their lives, unable to withstand the volcanic fury.

Psalm 97 immediately came to mind. What an awesome display of power! God reminds us that He rules the earth! He shakes us from our complacency. He dispels the illusion that we are in control. He may do it through natural disasters as with a volcanic eruption or a storm over Lake Erie; or through trials and difficulties at work, our families and friends or our health. And then, when we are broken and the scales fall from our eyes, He invites us to look upon Jesus, who alone is able to calm the winds, the waves and the storms of our lives. He invites us to trust Him. He says to us, “Take heart. I have overcome the world.”

Father, forgive us for our pride, for wanting to be in control, to be the lord of our lives. Help us to relinquish control of our lives to Jesus, our loving Savior, Master and Lord. Jesus, we acknowledge that you are our King! Do with us as You will, for Your will is perfect; it is for Your glory and our good. Amen!

And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matthew 8:27)

– John Carl Baron