Last week we saw Job’s purpose of trust in the midst of trials” (Job 13:15). This week we will consider “The Purpose of Praise in the Midst of Pressure.”
Three times in Psalm 42:5, 11, and 43:5 this determination of praise is declared. The psalmist was discouraged. His soul was panting and thirsting after God (42:1, 2). He was experiencing great difficulties and longed to be in the presence of God (42:2). He was living on a diet of tears (v. 3). All day long the enemy mocked him, saying, “Where is thy God?” (vv. 3, 10). He remembered the good times of the past (v. 4), yet also felt as if God had forgotten him (v. 9). He was overwhelmed and felt like he was going under (v. 7). The taunting of the enemies continued to stab him like a sword in his bones (v. 10). But the psalmist would not give up. No matter what he was going through, his relationship with God was more important than his life or comfort.
He encourages himself with his purpose of praise. “Why are thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (42:5). The negative circumstances had no effect upon his praise. God was his life (v. 8). He would worship Him, give Him thanks, and confess his allegiance to Him. His praise was the medicine for his moans and groans. He would still praise his God even when the future looked bleak and things seemed impossible. The song of God was with him (v. 8).
Even when the psalmist became an old man, he continued to trust in God (Psalm 71:5). Even when the enemy was relentless in their evil words and deeds (71:10) he continued to show his determination of praise. “But I will hope continually, and will yet praise Thee more and more” (71:14). Problems and pressures would not extinguish his praise. Over the years his praise increased. Age did not reduce his hymn of thanksgiving and adoration to God. What about you? May this “yet will I” be a part of your life as well.
For the next three weeks we will consider the determination of three individuals in spite of drastic circumstances. This week’s topic is: “The Purpose of Trust in the Midst of Trials.” Such is the faith of a man named Job.
In Job chapter 1 we are given the testimony of the character of Job in that he was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed [turning from] evil” (1:1, 9; cf. 2:3). But being godly did not mean that he was immune to problems. He was an extremely wealthy man (1:3), but his riches did not make him resistant to difficulties. You see, Job had an adversary who hated God and righteousness (1 Peter 5:8). Satan believed that if God were to “touch all that he hath,” Job would “curse Thee [God] to Thy face” (Job 1:11). God permitted Satan to do whatever he wanted, but not to take Job’s life (1:12).
What happens next is a domino effect where one bad thing happened right after another. The Sabeans attacked and took away Job’s 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys, and killed the servants (1:3, 14, 15); then the fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the 7000 sheep and the servants (1:3, 16); then the Chaldeans came and took away the 3000 camels and killed the servants (1:3, 17); and, finally, a strong wind destroyed the house where Job’s 10 children were, killing the young men (1:2, 4, 18, 19). How would you respond?
In sorrow Job tore his mantle, shaved his head, fell to the ground, and worshipped God (1:20), declaring, “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (1:21). Now look at Job 13:15 where Job expresses his purpose of faith, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him …”
Will you trust God no matter what happens to you, even if it means death? Job determined to keep his hope in the LORD in spite of losing everything else, even his health. His physical loss had no effect upon his spiritual life. He would wait patiently and see what God would do. Make this “yet will I” a part of your life.
Life is difficult! In our last study we noted that our Savior is personally touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15-16). We also discovered that the English words “touched with” are a translation of the Greek word sumpatheo from which we receive the word “sympathy.”
One day as Jesus walked this earth He was confronted by a man with a seemingly impossible and pressing need. The man was a leper, a disease that in Bible times had no medical remedy. Because of the contagious nature of the disease, lepers were separated from society and called “unclean.” This man was deprived of the loving touch of those he loved. Not only must he bear the sorrow of his disease, but he must bear it without the comforting hug of family and friends.
The man came to Jesus, and one can feel the desperation of his heart in his words: “…If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Mark 1:40b).
Jesus’ response reveals to us our Savior’s sympathies for our needs – body, soul and spirit. “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed” (1:41-42).
The words, “Jesus … put forth His hand and touched him,” reveal the deep sympathy of our Lord toward our needs. Yes, this man was in need of physical healing, but he also needed to be “touched.”
If you are a true child of God by faith in Jesus Christ, God’s sympathies are available to you. Life is difficult; but, praise God for the comforting words: “Blessed by God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them who are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Life is difficult! Pressures abound on every side and sometimes close in upon us with crushing force. But for the person who has placed his saving faith in Jesus Christ, there is a place of wonderful sympathy and comfort.
God cares about His creation and the Bible declares, “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). God’s love desires that every person receive the salvation He offers freely to everyone (2 Peter 3:9). Those who have received God’s gift of salvation in Jesus Christ become the recipients of God’s sympathy.
Interestingly, the English translation touched in Hebrews 4:15 is from the Greek word sumpatheo, from which we obviously received our English word sympathy. “For we have not an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).
True sympathy cannot be separated from the compassion evidenced by a “touch.” When a child is in need of our sympathies, they want a comforting hug “with skin on it.” Such is the precious nature of our Savior’s compassion for those in need. Jesus walked this earth and personally experienced its hardships which came as a result of sin’s curse. Our Lord felt hunger, pain, sorrow, and upon the cross endured the full consequence of the sin of all men.
The prophet Isaiah spoke prophetically of our Savior’s “sorrows” on the cross when He purchased our salvation: “He is despised, and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5). But Jesus’ “sorrows” also provide special comfort to His children who are struggling with the difficulties of life. Jesus “is touched with,” is sympathetic in a very hands-on way, with our sorrows. In our next study we will examine the blessings of the Savior’s “touch.”
The prophet Isaiah askes his readers, “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding” (Isaiah 40:28). Because He is God, “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength” (40:29). “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall” (40:29). But God never fails. Notice His great provision in verse 31.
“But they that wait upon the LORD,” trust in Him and submit to His will. They do not rely upon their own strength or insist on their own way (Proverbs 3:5, 6). They rest patiently and are surrendered to God (Psalm 37:7). As a result, they “shall renew their strength” because they are given His strength in their weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). “They go from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7). Their trust brings triumph. Their souls are refreshed because God is the source, not self. Faith empowers; the flesh weakens. Because of God’s strength “they shall mount up with wings as eagles.” They rise above despair and doubts. The winds of adversity only cause them to soar higher. They do not resist God’s will. Yielding results in victory and blessing. And so “they shall run, and not be weary.” They focus on the goal because Jesus is there (Hebrews 12:1, 2). Looking unto Jesus helps them endure the pain. They run with a purpose – to win the race. “And they shall walk, and not faint” because they walk with God. Even when walking through the valley of the shadow of death they fear no evil, because the LORD is with them (Psalm 23:4). They are not faint and scattered as those who have no shepherd (Matthew 9:36). They have heeded the commanding call of Jesus who said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus gives meaning and purpose to life. He gives forgiveness of sins because He is the Saviour of the world. Come to Him today; find life, and soar with the eagles!