16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? 17 Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence. 18 If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. 19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. (Psalm 94:16–19, NKJV)
The Lord has not promised to remove Christians from the hour of trial and trouble. Indeed, He did not remove His own Son from trouble. Jesus said, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27). God’s purposes are served, even when you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. God did not abandon His Son, and He will not abandon you. He is our refuge and strength when evildoers press upon us. He delivers us from the depths of despair. His presence, power and mercy delights the soul, especially in the face of unsettling troubles. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” … Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37).
5 For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, (2 Corinthians 7:5–6, NKJV)
Paul had traveled from Ephesus to Troas, where he hoped to reunite with Titus, and receive word from him concerning how the Corinthian church had received the epistle of reprimand he had written them from Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:8-9). There were opportunities to preach the gospel in Troas, and evidently persecutors were also hot on Paul’s trail (“outside were conflicts”). Plus, he had “no rest in his spirit” when he did not find Titus there (2 Cor. 2:12-13). So, Paul traveled on to Macedonia, where Titus met him with the comforting news that the church had received and obeyed his teaching. Here is our lesson: Opportunities to do good are sure to bring external pressures from those who resist what is good. With doing good comes internal longings for the spiritual welfare of others. Whether in conflicts and fears, God comforts us, just as He comforted Paul upon Titus’ arrival. Knowing that others are being faithful to God renews our strength and assures us in the comfort of our God (2 Cor. 1:3-7).
1 Then Job answered and said: 2 “I have heard many such things; Miserable comforters are you all! 3 Shall words of wind have an end? Or what provokes you that you answer? 4 I also could speak as you do, if your soul were in my soul’s place. I could heap up words against you, and shake my head at you; 5 But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.” (Job 16:1–5, NKJV)
Job’s friends not only gave him terrible counsel about the cause of his suffering, they spoke without comfort or compassion. Most of us long for the reassurance of comforting words when faced with the loss of a loved one, the pain of a disease or the uncertainties of life. Let us develop an ability to be sympathetic toward others, or even empathetic, when we have faced trials we see in others. Like us, others need a word of comfort and encouragement to strengthen them in moments of weakness (Matt. 7:12). We can increase our compassion toward others by living outside of ourselves, by actually pausing from our own hectic lives to see and respond to the needs of others. We will all face trials in life. Too bad all will not respond to those trials with words of consolation and actions that soothe the aching soul.
1 Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. 4 I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah (Psalm 61:1–4, NKJV)
David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, raised his voice in a cry of lamentation to God. This causes us to reflect on the abiding truth that God attends to the prayers of His people. When your heart is overwhelmed, weakened and strained by the burdens of life – illness, grief over the death of loved ones, uncertainties and doubts – it is God who hears and gives you shelter from all these storms. Like David, trust God to lead you to safety and salvation. He is your defense against every enemy, a comforting presence when life overwhelms. Trust in the protection of His wings and His dwelling place. Say with David that God is “my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved” (Psa. 62:2). Truly, God is “the rock that is higher” than any of us. He hears and heeds prayers that trust in Him. Pause today to meditate on God’s comforting presence and His promise to be “a very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1).
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, NKJV)
Fear is a real emotion that can overwhelm us. When David faced the dangers of death, he took courage in the presence of the Lord. You may face harm or potential harm in many different ways, yet with the Lord in your life, every distress can be faced with calm assurance. The shepherd’s rod and staff, tools for guiding, protecting and rescuing a distressed sheep, remind David of the Lord’s constant vigilance over him. Like David, we gain strength in the face of every trial, especially death, because we know the Lord is present – guiding, protecting and rescuing us from every danger – preserving us unto eternal life in His Son.