Thursday, July 16, 2009

What Are You Looking At?

Where did the idea originate that God would lift our problems off of our shoulders the moment we pray? I'm not sure, but I have certainly heard it many times. Songs, sermons, and other sentiments all seem to reflect the notion of “take it to the Lord and leave it there”. As if the second your prayer is over you won't have to think about the dilemma again and, even more, it will be instantly solved. While God can certainly bring change or healing in an instant, most often He does not.

A careful look at Psalm 55 finds David struggling against a friend that has turned into his enemy. We hear his grief and fear as he recalls how he struggles with anxiety and worry. He says, “My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.” His fears are rooted deep. They are on the level of life and death. We don't often face fears to that extreme, but even common problems can bring fear and trembling. There is no doubt that there is much uncertainty in the world. In fact, there is great uncertainty in our own lives. When our minds dwell on what might happen we can become consumed with despair and fear. Is that where we should focus?

No, David offers a picture for us of where we should look. He does not spend all day thinking about the potential terrible outcomes. He focuses on the Deliverer, “But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.” David's focus is on God. He is aware of the problems. He does not deny their severity. Yet, his focus remains on God.

Let's investigate further. When does David call upon the Lord with these problems? The answer is evening, morning and noon. See the connection between our discussion about casting our cares on God that was mentioned above? David says in this psalm, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” The word cast is in present tense. He doesn't say I casted or I will cast. No, he says I cast. When does he do his casting? Evening, morning and noon. It was not a one time prayer. It was a regular request of God which led him to be humble before God on a ongoing basis as he sought deliverance. He realized the problem was only going to be solved if God delivered the solution. That is the exact opposite of pride. Pride tells us that we can solve our problems on our own. And, it tells us we can solve them whenever we are good and ready. Pride is absent in Psalm 55.

One other noteworthy piece here is to think about David praying evening, morning and noon. Why would he mention those times? Well, when something is really bothering me it is usually the last thing I think about before I go to sleep and the first thing I think about when I wake. In the middle of the day, I usually take a break from my other tasks and I have some time to think about the things that are troubling me. That is not to say that I don't think about problems at other times in the day, especially when they are big problems, but those three times are prime times to be overwhelmed with concerns. David's message to us...which is repeated in the book of 1 that our goal should always be to turn our focus from the problem to the Great Problem Solver.

Yes, you have problems. We all do. But, where are you looking? Are you overwhelmed by the problem or in awe of the Problem Solver?

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