I recently found myself in a circumstance that was so painful, I feared it might break my faith. I felt sick for days and my anxiety skyrocketed. The sky was crashing down on me.
I sat in church, holding all of my pain, and I heard the pastor say, “God is the only one who never betrays us.” Words that were meant to be comforting made my heart sink. I felt betrayed by God.
Only two months before, I studied Psalm 27 and my heart came alive with the truth of God’s Word. I now see that God was preparing me for this time that he knew would almost break me.
Tradition holds that David wrote Psalm 27. Scholars believe he wrote it while in hiding from Saul after Saul murdered many of David’s friends. Talk about overwhelming circumstances!
David knew what it was like to come to the breaking point of his faith. Yet, in Psalm 27, he gives us principles to walk in faith when circumstances are painfully overwhelming.
Trust in God for strength, wisdom, and salvation.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation ,whom shall I fear?”
This is a hard principle to follow when you feel like God is the one who betrayed you. When we ask God the hard questions, even in anger, we are taking the first step to trust him. We are hoping he will answer our questions-and if he doesn’t, that he will at least grant us some comfort.
David reminds us that our ultimate hope is in Jesus and his full redemption of this broken world. Our broken circumstances will not last forever.
I easily forget that my knowledge is limited and God’s knowledge is infinite. We cannot be more moral or right than he is. He is the definition of rightness and morality. We cannot trust our own lack of knowledge of the universe, but we can trust his complete understanding.
Allow This Hope to Lift Me Above My Circumstances
“Though an army encamp against me’ my heart shall not fear…”
David was able to walk in faith, even though he was tempted him to give up.
What feels like God’s betrayal is often his faithfulness. What feels like God’s absence is often His presence. Our finite minds do not see all of the nooks and crannies of every circumstance. We can trust that his wisdom is perfect and his ways are just, even when it does not feel that way.
I easily forget what is true about God when I fix my eyes on my circumstances instead of Jesus. When Peter took his eyes off Jesus to look at the wind and waves, he panicked and began to drown. In a moment, he forgot who Jesus was because he was so fixed on his circumstance. Jesus didn’t let him drown-he reached out his hand and caught him. Let’s not let our circumstances drown out the helping hand of the Lord.
Seek God First.
“My heart says to you, ‘your face, Lord, do I seek…’"
Even when we don’t desire God, we can seek him first. We can pray that God will give us that desire. We can choose to worship him even when we don’t feel like it. Living in the dichotomy of anger at the Lord and wanting to know Him is difficult, but it is essential to living by faith.
I recently saw a deaf women perform a song perfectly, even though she couldn’t hear her own pitch. She was able to do it because she practiced and her vocal muscles remembered how to move for each note. It’s the same with our faith. We must exercise it-and the next time a hard circumstance arrives, our faith remembers how to trust. We exercise our faith by seeking God through his Word, praying, and worshiping even when everything in us does not feel like it.
Believe God is good and remember his goodness.
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!”
When circumstances feel awry, we must cling to what we KNOW is true. We may not understand the reasons behind our circumstance, but God's Word gives us solid truths to cling to. We may feel betrayed by God, but we KNOW that he is good and he never forsakes us (Psalm 136:1).
Remembering God’s goodness is a discipline that develops our faith. In the past, I’ve found myself in a pattern of doubt because I easily forget his goodness in past circumstances. When I remember, the believing part comes easier.
Just as the people of the Old testament built altars to remember God’s provision, we can “build altars” to remember God’s goodness. Journaling, is one way that helps me remember.
Wait for the Lord.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”
We can wait for God to move in our circumstances with courage, knowing “he works in all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).” This does not mean we will see all the reasons and answers for the circumstance. It does not mean our circumstances will be perfect. What it means is that God is always working for the good of our character and redemption. Suffering is not arbitrary- God gives meaning to our suffering. I honestly balk at that truth sometimes. Why would you work out your purpose at the expense of me or my loved ones?, I ask incredulously. I again have to remember in those moments that my understanding is finite and God’s is infinite.
Even when I balk at it, the fact that suffering has a purpose or meaning brings me comfort. I am quick to blame God, but God does not always cause our suffering. He will, however, step in and redeem it.
Living by these principles is not a quick-fix nor is it easy. It requires wrestling with God, living in the dichotomy of disappointment and faith, and being honest with ourselves, God, and others about our emotions.
One of my favorite things about God is that he is always present. He is big enough to handle all of our questions and anger. He sits with us even when we hurl angry words like punches in his face. He loves our souls to quietness. He walks with us in harrowing circumstances and he wrestles with us-not to fight us, but to strengthen our faith.
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