I do not know all who are reading this post, but I do know something about all who are reading this post — All are Enduring Tribulation.
First, there are all the natural consequences of the Fall — the curse. Bodies are failing, minds are going, and the planet is decaying. This is not paradise as it was in the beginning. Life is full of suffering and tribulation. Living hurts!
Atop that, the Devil hates all, and he especially despises those who are adopted sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father. He lusts to assault the King of Kings, but he cannot get close. Therefore, he plots and schemes how he can express his malicious wrath on Christ’s bride. Friends, he pants to steal, kill, and destroy.
Under Lucifer’s influence, the world teaches, tempts, and torments believers. Ungodly culture continually offers forth the devil’s unrighteous alternative to God’s good and gracious Law. Relentlessly, the world seeks to twist our thinking, steal our hearts, pervert our words, affect our actions, and generationally impact our children. And then, when “those of the world” discovers those “not of the world,” they pummel the redeemed and reformed with ostracism, persecution, and tribulation. In a very real sense, this present culture is Satan’s handmaid eager to do his bidding.
Then there is the wicked flesh, sin nature, or old man. It seems always ready to listen and consider the musings of Lucifer and his culture. Yes, Christians have died with Christ. Yes, Christians have a new heart. And yes, Christians have put their old flesh to death — over and over again. And yet, the flesh continues to rise and find its voice again. The flesh is like the weeds in one’s front yard. Though they be chemically killed, dug-up, and discarded, they are always found again next season.
Therefore, what ought men to do who endure much tribulation? They ought to take a clue from David. In times of tribulation, men ought to fervently pray.
In Psalm 56, David writes as he hides from his enemies in the Cave of Adullam. One can read of his woes in 1 Samuel 19-20. In his own words, men are proudly trampling on him all day; all day long attackers oppress him. Their thoughts are evil against him, they stir up strife, hurt his divine cause, and watch his steps while seeking to squelch out his life. Consider how he meditates and prays in his day of tribulation:
When I am afraid, I put my trust I you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? … You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? … This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? I must perform my vows … I will render thank offerings … For you have delivered my soul from death, yes my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life. (Psalm 56:3-13)
In Psalm 120, the Psalmist writes in another day of distress. He is greatly troubled by sins of the tongue. Those seeking his end are slandering, maligning, deceiving, lying, and cursing him. Their words are like burning arrows straight from the coals, and these people surround him on every side. But again, in his season of tribulation, the Psalmist meditates and prays:
In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. Deliver me, O Lord …. (Psalm 120:1-2)
In Psalm 140, evil and violent men are against plaguing God’s man. They plan evil in their hearts and stir up wars continually. They assault him with their lips; their tongues are sharp and contain the poisonous venom of snakes. Arrogantly they seek to trip him up and trap him. Again, David presents his prayer to his God:
Deliver me, O Lord … Guard me, O Lord … Preserve me … I say to the Lord, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy … O Lord! O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle. Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked … I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy. Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence. (Psalm 140)
Similar prayer is found in Psalm 141, but this time he also focuses on tribulation coming from within. He is troubled by his old nature, his old man, or his wicked flesh. And in this conversation with the Lord he supplicates for godly pastors, fathers, and brothers who will lovingly hold him accountable:
O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity. Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it … My eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! 9Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers! 10Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely. (Psalm 141)
Then consider his prayer offered forth from his cave of hiding. In Psalm 142, it is recorded:
With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! … There is none who takes notice of me … No one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me … Bring me out … That I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me. (Psalm 142)
It is a simple refrain, but it contains profound truth. The words are as follows, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.” Friends, tribulations come and go, and more are around the corner. However, God would not have his flock “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” as if they have no shepherd. Talk with the Lord. Focus on his sovereign attributes. Clear the cobwebs and get your worldview back in proper focus. God is …
- All powerful
- All planning
- All wise
- All knowing
- All good
- All controlling
- Always present
- Always working
- Always gracing
- Always caring
- Always listening
- Always drawing near
- Always helping
- Always winning
- Always the same
Tomorrow, some day, he will remove all your tribulation. However, until that glorious day, he will be with you in your hours, days, and seasons of tribulation. He cares. He is close at hand. He can help you have internal peace in the time of turmoil. He commands you to talk to him. He encourages you to pray. He wants to converse with you. Can’t you hear him? “Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling.” Oh friends, in your tribulation, pray, pray, pray!