August 24 – God Helps in Hard Times

Psalm 4

Answer me when I call to you,
    O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
    Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people ruin my reputation?
    How long will you make groundless accusations?
    How long will you continue your lies? Interlude
You can be sure of this:
    The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
    The Lord will answer when I call to him.

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
    Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude
Offer sacrifices in the right spirit,
    and trust the Lord.

Many people say, “Who will show us better times?”
    Let your face smile on us, Lord.
You have given me greater joy
    than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

This psalm was likely written when David was dealing with his son Absalom’s rebellion and attempted take-over of Israel. Can you imagine what a situation like that would be like? If your child did something to completely upset you in some major way? You would be so angry. You’ve tried your best to raise that child and get him/her what they’ve needed to live well? How could they do this? You’d even be sad and depressed in the middle of your anger.

Notice in the middle of his anger, David also trusts God in this situation. He wonders how long this mess will go on, but … “You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him.” He understands that God is the source of his peace and security. “You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.  In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.” 

David even takes a moment to reflect on his own response to this difficult situation. He knows he’s angry, but also knows he can’t let that anger control him. He tells himself to think about it for a while – over night for sure. In the meantime, he needs to keep quiet. Keep his mouth shut. He needs to trust the Lord. (v. 4 – 5)

As we look at this psalm, I also want you to think back to yesterday’s devotions on the prayer of examen – that prayer where you go back over your day and think about what happened, what your response was, and if you experienced God’s presence in that day. As we read various psalms, we see David thinking about what is going on in his life, and where God fits in. Do you do that? Do I do that?

I read about prayer of examen a few weeks ago, and I’ve been trying to do that in my early morning walks. Life, in general, brings difficult moments along with wonderful times. In reflecting over special moments and how God has blessed me, I’ve sensed more peace in my life. In thinking about difficult situations and how I handled them, I’ve also realized I’m depending on God’s leading much more than I used to. 

I encourage you to try the prayer of examen on a regular basis for a while. Take a deep breath and start going over your day. Look for the bright moments, look for the harder moments. Take a longer look at just one of those moments that seems to stand out. Ask God to show you what he wants you to learn from that. Praise God for his love and faithfulness.

Our song for today is Pray by Sanctus Real.

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