May 25, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 55)

Submitted by Kaitlyn L. from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

Psalm 55

Key Verse

 1 Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea;
    hear me and answer me.  My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught

God is …

God hears and sympathizes with us through the most painful events in our lives.  The Psalmist pours out his distress to God, being betrayed by a close friend, feeling overwhelmed with “anguish,” “terror,” “fear and trembling,” wanting to just run away from the tempest and storm and find a place of shelter.  Sometimes in the midst of going through something painful, it’s hard to trust that God cares about us, and sometimes instead of turning to God for refuge and help I find myself easily becoming resigned, with an unspoken belief that I’m going through all this because God allows it, and therefore he doesn’t care.  But ultimately, there are painful times like this in life because this world is a broken place, and we are sinners being hurt by our own sins or other sinners.  As this psalmist talks about the pain of being betrayed by a trusted friend, it’s so true that the most painful and hurtful things we experience are from the hands of those closest to us.  It’s just such a reminder of the kind of completely broken world we live in as I know of so many people who come from broken families.

In the midst of so much brokenness, it’s a note of hope that I can turn to God in prayer and not only be understood and heard, but find true refuge in God – not just for myself but for others who God has brought into my life.  God knows is familiar with pain and suffering. He experienced the pain of being reviled and rejected by his own beloved, the pain of giving his own Son to sinful men and knowing that we would mock and crucify the Son of God.  Jesus knew what it meant to be poor, to be mistreated, to be rejected, to be beaten, to be slandered, to have his own words be twisted against him.  I know that I can bring any pain to God and He will understand.  And not only understand, but God can save and ransom me.

Lessons for me …

There is lesson for me to not grow resigned about what feels like a “hopeless” situation to me. When I think this way, I know that it’s partly because I haven’t gone through much suffering in my life and I grew up living a sheltered life. So when I meet people who experience hardships outside of my range of life experiences, I’m not sure how to have hope for them.  But God knows their pain and messy situations. And there are no dry bones that God cannot breathe life into again.  As I try to love and intercede for others, I need to remember that even when I can’t think of a solution, God is able to deliver them. I need to keep praying for the person or situation that I feel hopeless about, and realize that it is an opportunity for me to see God work in ways beyond my comprehension.

Also I need to be real about the struggles in my life.  Compare to the anguished prayer of the psalmist, my prayer can be sometimes so dull.  One reason could be my desire to be blind to the problems in my life.  I want a harmonious life, peaceful and not one that is messy with problems. And I also do not want to get messy with my own sins.  But dealing with problems in that way would be choosing to not be true to life.  Things in life may not be as bad as being betrayed by a close friend, but there is no shortage of my own sins and character issues that I need to deal with as well as other people’s burdens that I need to bear with them. Of course there is also the burden of trying to build up a new church plant with everyone here, wanting our church to mature to become a vessel of salvation. So often I just want to be satisfied with a very small vision for my life, to be satisfied that there’s peace and quiet in a small pond. But that would not be embracing realities of life as well as shirking my responsibility.   If I were to do that, I would be looking for false peace that doesn’t exist.  And ultimately, I would be forfeiting the only true peace that comes from directly confronting the brokenness in and around me, and bringing them to God.

Prayer

vv.1-2 Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me.  My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught.

Heavenly Father, so often I forfeit the hope and comfort of prayer because I run away from what seem like potential pain and problems.  Sometimes I don’t want to dig up some perennial character issue or face my immaturity.  At times, I don’t want to be burdened with difficulties that others are facing. But Father, I see that when I act this way that these issues don’t go away. Rather my heart just gets smaller and harder.  Father, please forgive me for not praying these kinds of real and painful prayers, embracing and acknowledging the brokenness in my own life, in the lives of others. Father, help me to bring each of them to you, knowing that you are not too removed to understand nor too powerless to act.  You are a God who became sin for me and for all humanity when you committed no sin.  Father, thank you for being willing to go into the darkest and most unseemly corners of my life, to deal with the messiness of my sins.  Lord, please help me to not live in falsehood by glossing over any kind of sin or brokenness. Help me to honestly access those broken places in my life so I can cry out to you, the God who hears me and answers me.


Submitted by Andrew I. from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

Psalm 55

Key Verse

22 Cast your cares on the Lord

and he will sustain you;

he will never let the righteous fall.

God is …

God is someone who can carry my burdens and sustain me. In this Psalm, David endures one of the worst things possible, the betrayal of a close friend (v. 12-14.) This friend was someone whom he once “enjoyed sweet fellowship.” And so of course he would be distraught and heart-broken now that this friend has abandoned him and become an enemy. As David thinks about his terrible situation, his thoughts are troubled (v.2) and his heart is filled with anguish (v. 4). He feels so overwhelmed by his fears and trembling (v. 5) that his initial reaction is to want to run away from it all, like a dove flying away into the desert (v.6-7). He thinks that he can run away from his problems and that this is the best way to deal with his predicament. But he thinks better of it and instead calls out to God, to the Lord that saves him (v. 16). He cries out to God evening, morning, and noon and trusts that God hears his voice (v. 17). This is the kind of God whom I love and serve. He is a God who I can turn to every single time that I am in trouble and He will save me each time. God isn’t a God who doesn’t want to be burdened by my problems and issues, but in fact welcomes it and wants me to cry out to him. Why would God welcome my burdens, issues and problems? I read Matthew 7 recently, and am reminded about the “Ask, seek, knock” passage and how if I ask it will be given, if I seek, I will find, and if I knock, the door will be opened because God is a god of love and is my Heavenly Father. Typically, I think about how people don’t want to be burdened by the issues and problems of others. At work, when deadlines come, people don’t want to help others out. During finals, students hold onto their time and don’t want to help those around them. But the one instance where someone would welcome the burdens and problems of another is in a parent/child relationship because of the love of the parent for his child. And the same is true with God. When I come to God with my burdens and problems like David does here, God welcomes me and wants to respond to me. And so just as David concludes in Psalm 55:22, I can cast my cares upon God and He will sustain me.

Lessons for me …

While I’ve never experienced the betrayal of a close friend like David does here, I can still relate to his desire to “fly away” like a dove and to “flee far away and stay in the desert” as I face different issues and problems in my own life. There is an instinctive desire for me to run away from them. Whether it is a personal sin issue, a relational conflict, or a ministry problem, my gut reaction it to try and sweep that problem under the rug so that I don’t have to really deal with it. I think that time will solve the problem by itself or if I ignore it long enough, it will go away. I can even be tempted to turn to different forms of escapism so that I don’t have to think about it, such as, filling my schedule with different tasks or errands or just hanging out with people. While these things are not “bad” in and of themselves, they are means for me to avoid the problem/issue that I have. And the reason I do this is because I don’t know how to deal with the problem. I feel helpless and not in control of the situation. And because I don’t like feeling this way, I want to run away and avoid the issue.

But this Psalm reminds me and teaches me that I don’t have to handle or face these problems alone, instead I can “cast [my] cares on the Lord!” Of course in life I will face overwhelming problems and issues and things that I don’t know how to handle. But I have a God who I can turn to, a God who spoke things into being, called things that are not as though they were, and He is on my side. But instead of turning to Him for help, because of my pride I turn to myself and try to handle everything all on my own. I want to figure things out by myself and I want to be in control. So when I face that I can’t handle, I run away in order to avoid feeling helpless.   So I need to fight against my pride and also remember the portrait of God that is presented in His Word. From this psalm and from passages like Matthew 7, I can be assured that God is my heavenly Father who loves me very much and wants to help me in my times of need.

I remember the time that I felt the most helpless and turned to God was when my father had a stroke in Indonesia, and I was in America. I felt utterly helpless and so I turned to God at that time. He proved in so many different ways that He is indeed the God who saves and upon whom I can cast my cares. He directed me to psalms that I had never read before. These psalms gave voice to the feelings and emotions that I had in my heart.  He gave me His word to strengthen and encourage me. He gave me my friends at church and spiritual leaders to lean upon. They helped me to handle some of the practical things I needed to take care of and showed me a lot of love. He provided my dad with doctors who skillfully took care of him. And eventually my Dad recovered almost back to 100%. And so it was when I faced my darkest fears and faced the possibility that my Dad might die that I turned to God for help. And through that incident I really experienced God carrying me and I grew in my trust in Him. And so the lesson for me here is that my understanding and trust in God deepens when I take my problems, concerns, and fears to God instead of running away from them. And by doing so, my relationship with God grows.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being a God to whom I can turn to evening, morning, and noon. Thank you for being someone I can cry out to in times of distress or when my heart is in anguish. You make yourself available to me so that I can turn to you. You listen to my prayers and you do not ignore my pleas.  You hear me and you answer me. I thank you for being this kind of God. Indeed, you are my Heavenly Father to whom I can turn to in times of need and when my thoughts are troubled or when I have fears in my life.  You are a God who I can cast all my cares upon and I can trust that you will sustain me and not let me fall down. So often, when my sins, personal needs, relational strife, and ministry problems come into my life, my first instinct is to want to run away. I want to have wings like the dove so that I can flee into the desert and not have to deal with them. I don’t like that feeling of being overwhelmed, out of control, and that sense of fear. And so I want to avoid the truth. I escape from them through various means, but this doesn’t make them go away and they remain very much a reality in my life. I pray that instead of running away and escaping, that I can turn to you instead. You welcome my burdens as a father does and I am so thankful that you love me in this way and invite me to do this. You want me to trust in you and to share my burdens, issues, and fears with you. I don’t have to face them alone because I have you, the awesome Creator of the universe, on my side. I pray that I can turn to you first during these times and learn to trust in you and deepen the relationship that I have with you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen

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