There is comfort in the chorus of Ira Sankey’s old song: “O, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, A weary land, a weary land; O, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, A Shelter in the time of Storm.” We seem to be in a weary land in the middle of a storm.
Both of my parents went through the Great Depression. Experts believe that ten-year depression (1929—39) was brought on by the crash of the stock market and extreme drought with dust storms through the southern plains. It was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world. Though the Great Depression was serious, neither of my parents seemed to be harmed by it.
Depressions, turmoil and despair come to everyone periodically. They come because we live in a sin-broken world. This is not heaven, so not everything will come up roses. But, for believers in Christ, “we know that God causes all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28)—that is, the product in the end will be good—though the process in the meanwhile may be messy. It is possible to “know” that everything will work together for your good, without understanding how it will. We can “know” this by faith—by trusting God’s promise—even if we can’t understand God’s process.
Charles Spurgeon put it this way: “Even when we cannot trace God’s hand, we can trust God’s heart.” God’s heart is for us, and will guarantee that everything—the good, the bad, and the ugly—will work together for our good. So: even if you cannot “trace His hand,” you can “trust His heart” because He does all things for your good and His glory.
The 107th Psalm was written just for times like these. The Psalm traverses four cycles highlighting Our Problem—Our Prayer—Our Provision—and Our Praise. Amazingly—3,000 years later—We still follow this four-part pattern.
The Psalm begins with a call for people to offer thankful praise to God. It reads, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy” (Psalm 107:1-2). Praise and thanksgiving are the right responses from the hearts of all who realize that God is good and forever loving. So, what can we learn?
Our Problem: “There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains, Because they had rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High…they stumbled and there was none to help” (Psalm 107:10-12).
Without apology God’s Word states that we are sinners. Paul wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). To be sure, some are better practitioners of sin than others, but we all fall under the condemnation of sin. Sin brings consequences—“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Even the best of us are still sinners. Our problem originates with sin, in ourselves and in the world system.
Our Prayer: “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble” (Psalm 107:13).
Knowing we are sinners should move us to cry out to God in prayer. When in a helpless, hopeless condition, the natural thing is to call out for help. The only one who can truly help us is God Himself, and the good news is that He is waiting to hear from us!
Prayer is important—and so is our motive. Once Jesus contrasted two men who prayed. One said, “God, I thank You that I am not like other people…” while the second man, “was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ (Luke 18:10, 13). Jesus, who could see their hearts, said, “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (verse 14).
Our Provision: “He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their bands apart” (Psalm 107: 13-14).
God does not always give us what we ask in prayer, but He will always give us what we need. And He knows our needs better than we. God’s provisions are always adequate. Following three denied requests for God to remove an impediment; Paul learned that God’s grace was sufficient, and that His power was displayed through Paul’s weakness. Understanding this, Paul testified, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Our Praise: “Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! For He has shattered gates of bronze and cut bars of iron asunder” (Psalm 107:15-16).
The most natural, biblical, powerful response to God’s answer to prayer is praise! Psalm 107 describes difficult, even desperate times we will face. But the solution focuses on the action to be taken—“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble.” When we do that, the wonderful result can be realized: “He delivered them out of their distresses” (Psalm 107:6).
If you are in despair, don’t stay silent! Cry out to God. He hears and waits to restore your hope. Though God doesn’t always take us out of hard situations, He promises to be with us through them. What a comforting presence we have in the Lord! Call on Him, trust in Him, follow Him in your life, and you will be blessed!