Thoughts from Dayna Spaulding
Behind the Scenes
How many times have I felt that God was not near? If I’m being honest, more than I would care to count. And being honest, I often question why I feel distance from God. As I read the scriptures, I know that God is never far from us, even if I don’t feel it. For He has adopted us as his sons and daughters. Yet, I often don’t truly believe that truth. Sometimes I think we mistake trials in our lives as God distancing Himself from us.
When David (the author of this Psalm) was alive most of the surrounding kings were not his allies. They were his “enemies”. I find it interesting that in verse four of this Psalm David says, “All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth.” Sometimes we have people and circumstances in our lives that are our source of strife, that appear to be our enemies. However, I think David knew the truth that the surrounding nations were not his true enemies.
In Ephesians 6:12 it says that our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against evil spiritual forces. David looks forward to the day that the kings of this earth shall give God thanks for His word. But so often we want to take matters into our own hands. Jesus says to pray for our enemies and the Apostle Paul says that we are not to take revenge, but to leave room for God’s wrath. And in so doing it will lead to a beautiful cleansing and turning to God (Rom 12: 18-20). And as much as our flesh may want to see someone who has done us wrong suffer. We know that repentance and restoration is so much better and satisfying than revenge.
Make it Real
As we look at the 138th Psalm, there are a few things that help me when I feel distant from God:
First is that our troubles are not unique to us, as we all go through trials. Jesus said we will have trouble in this world (John 16:33). But He told us this that we can have peace because Jesus has overcome the world. I think that the trials we go through are there to remind us that we are dependent on God. Trials point out that we cannot do this thing called life on our own. We need the strength of God and His people to, not only get by, but to thrive in this life. We have been created for relationship and community!
Psalm 23 verse 4 David said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for your rod and your staff they comfort me.” You see, David knew God was the one who gave him strength even when he faced dire circumstances that seemed like death. Just like David, we must learn to draw our strength from the One who created, strengthens, and saves us.
Secondly, in Psalm 138:6 it says that God looks after the humble but is distant from the proud. Perhaps you feel like God is distant from you because you keep pushing Him away. You keep trying to do life on your own. You keep trying to make it through on your own strength. This verse says that the proud are only know by God from afar. It is our own pride that keeps us from knowing and being known by God and His people in the way God always intended for us to be known. I don’t know about you, but I want to know God deeper than I know anyone else in this world. I don’t want to just have a head knowledge of Him, I want to know Him like a friend. And God wants an intimate relationship with you and me.
Verse one and two of this chapter David starts off by humbling himself before the LORD. He bows down and gives thanks for faithfulness and His steadfast love. All too often I find myself staring out my day asking God for something, but maybe its time that I start out the day in humility and thankfulness for God and Him alone! He is our source of life and there is found salvation in no other name than the name of Jesus.
Verse eight of this chapter is my favorite and encompasses the third thing I want to point out today. It reminds me of Philippians 1:6. It says that God will finish what He started that moment we made Jesus our Lord. God is working in us to conform us into the image of His Son, Jesus. So many times, I’m made more aware of my sin, my weakness, and limitations when I go through difficult times. Praise God that we are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)! God is using the trials we go through to free us from the chains that we hold onto and the false comforts of this world.
God wants to be invited into every part of your life. He wants to celebrate with you. He wants to be invited into the darkest recesses of your heart to help you overcome the powerlessness and despair. In this God uses us to do great things on this earth that bring us and others closer to the Heavenly Kingdom.
End in Prayer
There is no other name higher than yours and there is none like you. LORD, teach us to give thanks and even to take joy in our trials. Please remind us that through the difficulties of life you are writing us into a story that brings us into completion of Your Heavenly Kingdom. You are using us and our past to come along side others and their struggles. In the end we come out closer to you and looking more like you, Jesus. So, we thank you for the love, joy, and strength you give in this life.
In Jesus’ name we pray,