I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer… (Ps. 18:2)
To face what is below requires power from Him above.
David wrote this song when “when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul…”
In anxious times James wants to do the delivering, the controlling, the planning. But true deliverance and strength comes not from my best efforts but His great power.
If we think our lives are difficult or our nation distraught David was “hunted like a partridge in the mountains.” (1 Sam. 26:20) Imagine the government trying to kill you while you hide in the Poconos for, like the A-Team, a crime you didn’t commit… although this was actually true in David’s historical life. It was an unjust oppressor with massive resources pursuing from false fear a shepherd with a sacred call to lead. So after beginning his journey by destroying Goliath, David eventually had far more to fear from the betrayal of his own people than any foreign threat. Many times along this path David could have taken matters into his own hands – form an alliance with the king’s son and stage a coup, murder Saul while he slept, use the infatuation of the king’s daughter to obtain the throne – but David always resisted these seducing solutions because he trusted God’s eternal purpose. Faith in forever prevented anxious decisions in the temporary.
As we look for strength today during times of great distress the most tempting opportunity will be to utilize our competency to mask our anxiety during moments of despair. Working harder to feel less when most stressed is a classic manifestation of human fear when human beings feel furthest from the God they are made in the image of. Feeling that the Creator has departed the presence of the garden but left the work behind we substitute going deeper into the world we have been given as a gift rather than reaching higher to its Creator. Because the world is broken and fallen, however – which had to happen lest our sin and alliance to evil grow in perfect soil a result even more horrendous than has happened already – the more we lean into horizontal solutions the more despair we feel about our vertical divorce. Paradoxically the more we do the less we delight – the more we try to fill our time the more we empty our souls. And in moments like these it is more alluring than ever to chase the wind of worry by working more rather than trusting deeper. This is not to say our effort should become apathy – far from it. It is rather to say that instead of conspiracy we accept that we are more than conquerors, instead of fear we are children of a loving and all-powerful Father and instead of isolation we are accompanied in perpetuity by a Jesus who promised to never leave us alone.
So the question begged in this scripture is whether we shall discover at the end of this that we love God deeper or merely trust the world less. But trusting the world less will do nothing for our soul until we take our pain from what has occurred and translate it into trust for the promise which is to come. Simply walking away thinking that our health is uncertain, our government divided and our nation in a state of continual anger will accomplish little but to make us bitter people, hyper-focused on the very world we have so clearly seen as empty in its false hopes. Ironically our bitterness, sense of betrayal and even fears will drive us to think more and more about the worst of the worst until our minds are saturated with the very things we are trying to escape. Like a divorcing couple that spends more time talking in court than they did in their marriage, we will find ourselves connected deeper to this world, not less, until we take our experiences of loss and give them to the Lord asking for our love. Until God is our strength our love will always be misguided, our affection forever forlorn and our intimate hope perpetually shattered. Like David we need God’s salvation in its truest sense – His kingdom invading our own – to experience finally the giving and receiving of love we have always longed for, the nurturing embrace of a guiding Father for which we have yearned within and the comfort and companionship of a divine sibling with whom we share the inheritance of God.
He is with you.
Are you with Him?