“I will bless you, even if the car won’t start . . .”

A week ago I gave a talk at Witnesses to Hope, and part of what I spoke about was the importance of thanking the Lord in all circumstances.  This past weekend one of the women who had attended that night, passed on to me a prayer that she found in the September issue of The Word Among Us.  Part of it goes like this:

Father, I choose today to go through my day blessing you, whether my circumstances are comfortable to me or not.  I will bless you, even if the car won’t start or the kids’ commotion won’t stop.  I will bless you in rain and in drought, in hot or cold, in feast or famine.  I will bless you because you have rescued me from sin.  I lift up your holy name and exalt your goodness because you are holy and righteous.

I will bless you, Father, when gas prices rise, and when my income fails.  I will proclaim that you are good and you hold  all things in the palm of your hand.  When insects swarm, when crops fail, when stock markets falter, even when your favor seems to flee my life, still I will bless you.  You are mysterious in your ways, yet compassionate in your wisdom.  I will trust you, Lord, and bless you, God most high.

You can read (pray) the entire prayer here.

Building up a memory for the good

As I have mentioned before, Pope Benedict is doing a marvelous series on the psalms during his Wednesday audiences.  Here is part of his address yesterday on Psalm 126:

Dear brothers and sisters, in our prayer we should look more often at how, in the events of our own lives, the Lord has protected, guided and helped us, and we should praise Him for all He has done and does for us. We should be more attentive to the good things the Lord gives to us. We are always attentive to problems and to difficulties, and we are almost unwilling to perceive that there are beautiful things that come from the Lord. This attention, which becomes gratitude, is very important for us; it creates in us a memory for the good and it helps us also in times of darkness. God accomplishes great things, and whoever experiences this — attentive to the Lord’s goodness with an attentiveness of heart — is filled with joy.

You can read the entire thing here.

How many are my foes!

How many of you are saying (shouting) that phrase right now in your lives? “How many are my foes!”  Well, you are in good company.  David began Psalm 3 with those very words.  Three times he uses the word “many” in reference to those who were attacking him . . .

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that Pope Benedict has begun a new series on prayer in his weekly Wednesday audiences.  I thought I would share with you part of his meditation on the beginning of Psalm 3.  I hope you find it as encouraging as I did.

Ps 3.1-2 O Lord, how many are my foes!  Many are rising against me; many are saying of me, there is no help for him in God.

“The prayer’s description of his situation is marked by strongly dramatic tones. Three times he repeats the idea of the multitude — ‘numerous,’ ‘many,’ ‘how many’ — which in the original text is said with the same Hebrew root, in order to underline even more the immensity of the danger in a repeated, almost relentless way. This insistence on the number and greatness of the foe serves to express the psalmist’s perception of the absolute disproportion there is between himself and his persecutors — a disproportion that justifies and forms the basis of the urgency of his request for help; the aggressors are many; they have the upper hand, while the man praying is alone and defenseless, at the mercy of his assailants.
“And yet, the first word the psalmist pronounces is ‘Lord’; his cry begins with an invocation to God. A multitude looms over and arises against him a fear that magnifies the threat, making it appear even greater and more terrifying; but the man praying does not allow himself to be conquered by this vision of death; he remains steadfast in his relationship with the God of life, and the first thing he does is turn to Him for help.
“However, his enemies also attempt to break this bond with God and to destroy their victim’s faith. They insinuate that the Lord cannot intervene; they maintain that not even God can save him. The assault, then, is not only physical but also touches the spiritual dimension: ‘The Lord cannot save him’ — they say — even the core of the psalmist’s soul is attacked.
“This is the great temptation to which the believer is subjected — the temptation to lose faith, to lose trust in the nearness of God. The just man overcomes this ultimate test; he remains steadfast in the faith, in the certainty of the truth and in full confidence in God, and it is precisely in this way that he finds life and truth. It seems to me that here the psalm touches us very personally; in so many problems we are tempted to think that perhaps not even God can save me, that He doesn’t know me, that perhaps it is not possible for Him; the temptation against faith is the enemy’s final assault, and this we must resist — in so doing, we find God and we find life.”

Tomorrow I will post his comments on the next couple of verses of Psalm 3.  Or you can read his whole meditation here.

He knows

Ps 103.14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
Job 23.10 He knows the way that I take: when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

“Perhaps those words, He knows, are meant for you today because God has allowed you some special trial of faith.  The love of God is very brave.  He does not hold trial off lest we should be overwhelmed.  He lets it come and then gloriously strengthens us to meet it.  And at the end, I shall come forth as gold.”  (Amy Carmichael, Whispers of His Power)

The dry places

Ps 105.41  He opened the rock, and water gushed forth; it flowed through the desert like a river.

Have any of us any dry places?  They may be out of sight of even loving eyes.  We may be ashamed to think there are such places when we have so much to fill our lives with song and praise, and yet there they are, dry places of longings, weariness, disappointment, difficulty of any sort, failure.

Oh, blessed be the love of God; ‘the waters . . . ran in dry places like a river.’  There is no need to go on in dryness.  ‘For the Lord shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody’ [Is 31.3].  (Amy Carmichael, Edges of His Ways)

May this promise be fulfilled soon in each of us.

But how can we be happy?

Did some of you stumble on yesterday’s post: Every day?  Perhaps this from Amy Carmichael will help you, commenting on Ps 9.1-2: I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all thy wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and exult in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High. 

Joys are always on their way to us.  They are always travelling to us through the darkness of the night.  There is never a night when they are not coming.  So the Psalm for this morning should be the word of our heart every morning.  It is the ‘Every day’ word again.  ‘Every day I will bless Thee’.

If any of you feel, But how can we be happy while we are burdened by the sins and sorrows of the world?  I say to you, ‘O thou enemy, destructions are coming to a perpetual end. . . But the Lord shall endure for ever: . . . He shall judge the world in righteousness. . . ‘[Ps 9.6-8 P.B.V.].  The day when that word will be fulfilled is on its way, it is hastening.  So in faith and in certainty we rejoice, for sin and sorrow shall not endure for ever, they have an end. ‘But the Lord shall endure for ever:’ Alleluia.  (Edges, pp. 64-65)

May God lift up your heart today . . .

Every day

Still working through Amy Carmichael’s commentaries on various psalms.  I was struck by her words about Ps 145.2: Every day will I bless Thee; and I will praise Thy Name for ever and ever.  She writes: “Every day—that means this day.  On some days it is much easier to bless the Lord and praise Him than on other days, but there are not exceptions: ‘This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it’ (Ps 118.24).  Whatever the burdens, however sharp the conflict, the word is the same.” So this day may we each bless the Lord and rejoice in this day that He has made.  No matter what it may look like to our eyes, the spiritual reality is always the same: God is love and only love.

Delivered from all your fears

I have been “living” in the psalms this past year, relying on Derek Kidner’s commentaries and, more recently, working through some of Amy Carmichael’s comments on various psalms.  I thought I would share this one on Psalm 34 with you today:

Psalm 34.4, 6:  From all my fears . . . Out of all his troubles. 

My fear is not yours, but nearly everyone has, somewhere inside, a weary little fear which keeps cropping up.  But every time the fear pushes out its head, there, waiting to end it, is that glorious word, ‘delivered from all my fears.’ (Not from some, or from most, but from all.)

Out of all his troubles: this may find someone in trouble.  We may have to pass through the waters, but we shall be delivered out of them.  They will not overflow us. ‘This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.’  There again, it is not out of some, or out of most, but out of all.”  (Edges of His Ways, p. 23)

A word to last all through your day

A reflection from Amy Carmichael on Ps 68.28: Thy God hath sent forth strength for Thee (P.B.V.)

Many of us know what it is to receive a word in the early morning that lasts all through the day.  We live on that word; we ‘feed on faithfulness’ [Ps 37.3 RV margin].

These few words from the Psalm for the day have been with me all through the hours. ‘Thy God hath sent forth strength for thee’.  The day lies before us.  It will bring us things that in ourselves we have no strength to meet.  That does not matter.  Our God has already sent forth strength for us.  It is like that other word, ‘My God with His lovingkindness shall come to meet me’ [Ps 59.10 Amer. Ver.].  Strength and lovingkindness—what more do we need?  That duty, that difficulty, which we see coming to meet us, what of it?  Our God hath already sent forth strength for us, and before the thing we fear can meet us on the road, our God with His lovingkindness shall meet us there.” (Edges of His Ways, pp. 21-22)

But then I remember

I have intermittent internet access in my office.  Yesterday, it was mostly non-connected.  I finally began this at 8:30 last night.  Then I had to take a non-expected long distance phone call.  Just to let you know, I really am trying to post. 🙂

I picked up a book at the library–a children’s book–called Psalms for Young Children.  I’m usually wary of “paraphrased” scripture books for children.  I think it’s better to just expose them to the Word of God directly.  On the other hand, I have found concepts so brilliantly distilled in books for children.  So this book caught my attention.  The first page says: “This selection of Psalms, paraphrased for young readers, uses language and imagery appropriate for children while remaining faithful to the spirit of the biblical texts.”

Psalm 13

Sometimes when I’m very sad,
I worry that you will
forget about me, God.
But then I remember that
you love me always.
So I will sing and be happy!

Derek Kidner, in his commentary on the psalms, points out that in almost every psalm in which the psalmist is complaining of trials and hardships, there comes a turning point, a “but” point, when the attitude of the psalmist changes.  One can see that point so clearly in this rendition of Psalm 13.  May it be an encouragement to any of you who are worrying that God will forget about you.  May you remember that He does love you always, and may a song rise in your hearts.