The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dealing with Deep Waters

“Save me, O God! For waters have come up to my neck.” – Psalm 69:1

Ever feel overwhelmed by life, like you’re drowning in a sea of problems? You don’t know what the future holds. You’ve lost hope. All you see is darkness. You got the bad report from the doctor. Your loved one is sick. It doesn’t look good. Or every move you make seems to be a dead end. You can’t pay the bills. You can’t find a job. Your marriage is hanging on by a thread. Your children are rebelling. Your parents are so not understanding you. You’ve been betrayed. There’s unrest and violence in the neighborhood. You’re addicted. You feel ashamed, guilty, or broken or all of that. You’re neck deep in deep waters. Life can be like dark foreboding deep waters. It’s hard to move. You try but you can’t. You fear drowning. You fear the sharks. They’re circling. What will you, what can you do? How do we deal with such times? How do we deal with the deep waters? Psalm 69 describes deep waters and how to deal with them. It’s a psalm closely connected to Jesus. If you’re going through deep waters or know someone who is, I encourage you to get your Bible, open to that psalm and study along with me.

Deep waters in life are like mire or quick sand (v.2). They are times where you cry so much and so hard that your throat dries up and your eyes fail (v. 3). They are times when people turn against you for no reason known to you, where people gang up on you, where they use intimidation tactics and even seek to destroy you (v. 4). These are times where you realize your limitations and are convicted by your own sins (v. 5). They are times when you feel ashamed and fear bringing shame to God because of your actions (v. 6-7). These are times of loneliness (v. 8) and indignation (v. 9). These are times when people mock you because of your faith (v. 10-12). Can you relate to any of that? If so you are not alone. Jesus can relate to all of it; “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Jesus knows about deep waters and He is able to help you.

How can we, how should we deal with the deep water times of life? We need to go to God in prayer. It states, “But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, hear me in the truth of Your salvation” (v. 13). John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress wrote, “You can do more than pray after you’ve prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Prayer is your lifeline to God. Pray to God when going through deep waters. No superficial prayer will do. Wait on God in prayer until the “acceptable time,” until you make contact. He is always there, but we are often distant. Trust in the “multitude of” or abundant mercy of God. Go before Him prayerfully with your Bible open for “the truth” about your deep waters. Be open to His truth. You need to know the reality of your situation. God’s word has the truth you need (John 17:17). Pray for God’s deliverance and trust in the reliability of His lovingkindness, goodness and mercy (v. 14-16). Understand Jesus is there with you and knows exactly what you are going through. He went through deep waters too (v. 17-19). He will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5). His promise is that nothing can separate you from His love (Rom. 8:38-39). Draw near to Him. Seek His presence. He knows your brokenness because He was broken on the cross for you (v. 20; 1 Cor. 11:24).

Jesus knows the ruthlessness and mercilessness of people who attack the vulnerable. He went through that on the cross (v. 21; Mat. 27:34, 48). As you pray give your circumstances to God in full surrender. Rather than defend yourself, trust God to defend you (v. 22-28). He will direct you in what to say and what not to say (Mat. 10:19-20). Jesus was forsaken by all but trusted in the Father. You may be forsaken by all but you must trust in Him. Trust in Him to save you (v. 29).

Then you must worship Him. “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (v. 30). C.H. Spurgeon once said, "Any fool can sing in the day. It’s easier to sing when we read the notes by daylight. But the skillful singer is he who can sing when there is not a ray of light to read by. Songs in the night come only from God. They are not in the power of man.” Paul and Silas were pursued by demons, dragged through the streets, falsely accused, beaten and thrown in jail. They were going through deep waters. But in faith they prayed and worshipped the Lord in jail. God brought an earthquake that shook the prison doors open and set them free. And God then used them to save the jailer and his family to boot! (Acts 16). Victory!

God can get you through the deep waters with a song. By faith praise and worship God. You may not feel like worshipping God while treading the deep waters. But in faith, even with tears, worship Him. There is power in this. It will lift your spirit and bring life to your heart. It will testify to those around you. It is your offering to God in full surrender to Him. It is most pleasing to the Lord and He will hear the cry of His child (v. 31-33). God hears the song of the broken hearted. “A broken and contrite heart – these, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

In the end, even the “seas and everything that moves in them,” even the deep waters and all that is in them, will praise Him (v. 34). God can and will bring good from the deep water times of your life (Rom. 8:28). Puritan Thomas Watson once said, “A sickbed often teaches more than a sermon.” God can teach you and build you strong even through the deep waters of illness. God will save you, build you and you will be restored to continue on in this life or to move on to the next (v. 35). Our testimony should be “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

Even your descendants will benefit from the story you’ll tell of how God got you through the deep waters of your life (v.36). Jesus will get you through and help you to deal with the deep water times of your life. In another psalm it states, “When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). That Rock is Jesus. “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19). In the power of the Spirit, be that standard. The Father says to you, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. . . . For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; . . .” (Isaiah 4:1-3). Jesus will help you deal with the deep waters.

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