No one likes trials! Can I get a witness to that truth?
But, the reality is, trials come into each and every life. No one is exempt from the trials of life. Unforeseen circumstances that blindside you and threaten to bring you down. Unexpected emergencies that catch you off guard and rock your world. A loss of job and thus lost wages for your family. A medical bill that is too high and you wonder if you will ever be able to get it off your plate. An illness that threatens your very life or the life of a loved one. Drama from the kids, sensing something is wrong with mom and dad but can’t find the words to express themselves. Death hanging about your door, just waiting to snatch a loved one from your grasp. Oh, yes, trials come from every possible side of life. And they come to us all.
The Psalmist David was no stranger to trials. He had them too. Plenty of trials haunted him at times throughout his life. And no doubt, just like all of us, David would have found it difficult to sleep at night for all the trials that weighed so heavy upon his heart. In Psalm 4, David writes of one such time. Within this psalm, we find him crying out to his God:
“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. . . But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the Lord will hear when I call to Him.”
Even though David was going through some sort of trial at the time of this writing, he KNEW with all his heart, that he belonged to God, and that God would hear his servant when he called out to Him. So, in the midst of his trials, in the quietness of the night, David called. With a bold confidence, he called out to his God, knowing that He would hear and answer him.
David doesn’t share the details of the present trial that he was going through. Although verse 2 gives us a little clue: shame, worthlessness, falsehoods and lies. Yes, David’s heart was in emotional conflict. David didn’t have to share all the juicy details. We don’t need to know them in order to learn something from how David dealt with his trial.
In verses 4 and 5, David shares with his readers, through the prompting of God no doubt, some very good advice. Four things to do in the midst of our trials. I want to consider those for a moment.
“Be angry and do not sin.” Some people will look at that phrase and think, “Oh good, this gives me permission to get really angry at the people or circumstances I am in. I can say what I want in anger, I can throw things in anger, I can do what I want because I am angry right now. I can seek revenge because I am really angry. It’s my right to be angry.” But this “anger” is not that kind of “anger”. Dr. David Jeremiah, in his The Jeremiah Study Bible (page 209) describes it this way: “‘Be angry’ can be translated, ‘come to your senses’ or ‘be stirred, tremble.’ Being in this state is not an excuse to surrender to emotions and sin. Anger and sin do not have to go hand in hand.” Well said Dr. Jeremiah!
Now, can we be angry at our circumstances, angry at what someone did to us? I think that is a normal human reaction. And we all get angry at times, in the midst of trials, at the circumstances that we are dealing with, or with someone who has hurt us deeply. But what is important is what we do with that anger. It is not a good thing when our emotions take over and our anger leads us to sin and more sin. Better yet, we should strive to “come to our senses” and take the anger we feel about our circumstances to the God who cares and who will listen. When we go to God with it, we remove the avenue to sin that threatens and tempts us. When we go to God with it, we open the door for God to work through our trials, our circumstances, and through our emotions.
“Meditate within your heart on your bed and be still.” Meditation brings calm, right? Or does it? I think it all depends upon what you are meditating upon. Personally, if I go to bed and lay there, thinking about, meditating upon all that happened that day, my trials, my reactions, my anger, my emotions, etc. well then, I am guaranteed to have a sleepless night. That kind of meditating keeps me awake. It fuels my anger. It keeps the fire of the trial burning within. That is not a good thing. And it certainly doesn’t help me to “be still.” No way!
BUT, when I call out to my God, as the Psalmist David did, then, I have instant access to Someone who not only hears me, but is able to take the stress of the trial from off my shoulders and allow me to rest. He will hear my cry, understand my emotions, and work towards the solution on my behalf. When I choose to meditate upon His Word, His Love, His Presence, His Comfort, then good things start to happen in the midst of my trials. His Word settles my soul. His Love relaxes my mind and body. His Presence fills the room with His everything. And His Comfort brings that sense of calm and a stillness that enables me to simply rest.
“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness.” What does that mean? Here’s what I know that it means to me: There is only one sacrifice I can offer up to my God. It’s not an easy one to offer during times of trial. But it is a necessary sacrifice for me to offer my God when I want Him to hear and help me through the difficulties I face. That sacrifice I can give to God is “the sacrifice of a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17). When my heart is broken, and my circumstances are laid bare before my God; when my anger over the circumstances is given to God; when my need for revenge is surrendered; when my thoughts are taken captive; when my fight turns to acceptance; and when “my will” becomes all about “His will” – then I know, I know my heart is truly broken. It is in that moment that I can offer to my God, my broken and contrite heart. I can offer to Him, my sacrifice of righteousness.
“And put your trust in the Lord.” Believe with your whole heart, soul, mind and being that God’s got you! Trust His working behind the scenes of your trial. Believe that He is working all things for your good. Let Him do the work necessary to bring about the perfect resolution. Trust Him! Trust – –
Take your hands off your circumstances,
Rest in the God who holds it all in His hands,
Understand that God’s work is always perfect,
Surrender your need to control things over to Him,
Thank Him for what He is about to do!
Trust! As the Psalmist David surrendered his will and his circumstances over to His God, he would rest better. It would be a peaceful rest. He could clearly see His God. And thus, with his focus now changed from off the circumstances onto His God, David could say:
“Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. You have put gladness in my heart. . . I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
I can almost hear God’s comforting voice say, “Rest well, my child! I’ve got this for you!!”