People tend to have selective hearing ~ we only listen to what we want to hear; many times we are guilty of tuning God out. However, even in all our unfaithfulness, God is always faithful. We call on Him and He inclines His ear to hear. Intransitively, inclined means: to bend the head or body forward; to lean, tend, or become drawn toward an opinion or course of conduct. Transitively, it means to cause to stoop or bow; to have influence on; to give a bend or slant. Drawn to a course of conduct1. When we cry to Him (our conduct), God not only hears, He bends His head toward us because He is drawn to our cry.
The cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!” Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living. (vv 3-9)
Have you ever felt distressed and endured the pain and torment that it brings? Circumstances can be crushing and unbearable, some leave us wondering how we have remained standing under the pressure. The terror of Sheol is illustrated in what we refer to as going through hell. Many of us have been there and back again. But God… He has saved our life. He will not allow us to die, but He will let attitudes and heart issues die, so that we come out better on the other side, trusting and believing in Him more deeply. He is so gracious! When I think of all that He has done for me already, what He has walked with me through to keep me in my right mind ~ I am awe-struck. Indeed, because of His goodness, I am walking in the land of the living.
I believed when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” I said in my alarm, “All men are liars.” What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? (vv. 10-12)
Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar (Romans 3:4). We put too much trust in man, our expectations are high and we place our trust in people who will inevitably disappoint us and let us down. I will let people down, we are all flawed and fall short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23) This does not mean we should not trust. God has put people in our lives we can depend upon, but God is the only one that is Faithful and True and the only one worthy to place our trust in as our only source. Rendering our praise to God is what we should render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward us.
I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones. (vv. 13-15)
Verse 15 could not be more prevalent than today. We are witnessing the genocide of thousands of Christians in the Middle East. Not only in Iraq, but Christians have endured brutal persecution and execution in Egypt, Syria and into Africa. Christians are not the only ones threatened with death ~ other religious minorities are suffering as well. When I think about what these people are enduring; they have lost everything and now they are faced with losing their very life ~ all for the name of Christ. Don’t believe for one moment that these precious martyrs go unnoticed to God. Verse 15 does not suggest that God finds pleasure in their deaths. No. Their death for His Name sake is precious to Him. He holds them very close to His heart. He has a special reward for them.
Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God. Rev. 20:4
My problems pale in comparison to what these people are suffering. It doesn’t mean my problems or suffering will go away, or should be diminished, but it does give me perspective. I am thankful I am not being forced from my home, losing everything. I am thankful I did not wake up today with a sword to my throat demanding that I deny Christ or die.
O Lord, surely I am Your servant, I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid, You have loosed my bonds. To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord. I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the Lord’s house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord! (vv. 16-19).
Despite all that you have endured, give God praise. I am not saying that it is easy; trust me, I know first-hand just how hard it is. God does not expect us to thank Him for everything, but in everything.
In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1Thes. 5:18 NASB
The Lord knows the freeing power that thanksgiving brings in the middle of our trials. He loves us so much and He knows what is best for us. He knows when we depend on Him, we trade our weakness for His strength; we cannot handle troubling circumstances on our own, we need Him. He fills us with extra oil for the journey and enables us to cross the finish line. He loves you and He has bent low and bowed down to give attention to your cry. He is faithful to answer.
1The American Heritage College Dictionary, 4th ed., s.v. “inclined,” (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002).