Considering and Crying
by Joseph Franks
Are you in trouble, distress, and affliction? Are you a bit scattered? Are you wandering back and forth? Are you hungering, thirsting, fainting, and longing? Do you find yourself in bondage and imprisoned? Are you surrounded by darkness as you walk through the shadow of death? Have you foolishly spurned the wisdom of God? Is it because of you own iniquities that you suffer? Or is it the sin of someone else who has caused your harm? Have you lost the enjoyment of life; is it a desert-like existence for you? Are the storms around you about to do you in? Friends, is your family falling away from God and apart from one another? Are you a needy one in great affliction?
What ought you to do?
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron. Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy! Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish. When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow, he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks. The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth. Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord. (Psalm 107)
Struggling friends, today, let us attend and consider the steadfast love of the Lord shown to Israel. Let us rejoice in the salvation of God provided to Noah and Lot. Let us reminisce about the grace and mercy shown to Joseph and Moses in Egypt. Let us see how David, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Esther were rescued from wicked kings. Let us find hope from seeing God’s past steadfast love towards his old covenant people.
Then, let us attend and consider the steadfast love of the Lord shown to the church. In the days of Elijah, the church was almost squelched out. Following the ascension of Jesus, Saul of Tarsus and others sought to extinguish the flame of Christ. Physical persecution, spiritual competition, materialism, hedonism, intellectualism, and social ostracism have all be used by the evil one to kill the church, but yet it stands. We can find hope by looking at church history and seeing that God is a mighty fortress for his beloved bride. Kings and nations come and go, but the King of kings stands supreme. The church shall never perish and neither shall the steadfast love of the Lord towards his new covenant people.
Then, let us pause, attend, and consider the steadfast love of the Lord shown in the past to us. When we read our own diaries, or look at our Pinterest and Facebook posts, we can be encouraged by the goodness of the Lord. In the past, he has rescued us from our sin, and he has kept our families from complete apostasy and destruction. He has healed our bodies, and slowly his work of sanctification has made progress. There have been days when we felt we could not go on, but his grace sustained us and here we stand. We can find hope, because the God who never left us or forsook us, he promises to never leave us or forsake us. So let us recall the steadfast love of the Lord to us and to our family. Surely goodness and mercy have followed us all the days of our life.
Then, let us attend and consider the steadfast love of the Lord available for us today. And as we do, let us cry out unto him for help. Four times the Psalmist uses the phrase, “Then they cried to the Lord.” Friends, this is what humble people do as they recognize their own impotence. This is what wise people do when they recognize the potential power of God available to work on their behalf. This is what saved people do when they really the Judge of this world is their adoptive and caring Heavenly Father. It is what obedient people do who heed the instructions and example of Jesus who is their Savior and Lord. As one minister states, “When we pray, God will either remove the burdens from our back, or strengthen our backs for the burden he allows to remain.” But either way, wise and hurting children of God ought to pray with out ceasing. They ought to cast all their cares upon the Lord. They ought to be professionals at crying out to the Lord. Such is the example and testimony of Hannah, David, Daniel, and the perfect Son of God. Cry to the Lord and receive strength for the journey. Cry to the Lord and his steadfast love will come to us in one way or another.
Then on the upcoming Lord’s Day, let us attend and consider the steadfast love the Lord with our spiritual family. This is the day in which hurting individuals can find brothers and sisters crying beside and with them. It is also the day in which we will be able to celebrate the different ways in which the steadfast love of the Lord has been expressed in God’s family. On Sunday, let us not sit alone and cry, but let us gather together to learn, share, sing, praise, pray, give, and cry. Sunday’s worship service should be an oasis for suffering travelers wandering through the desert of God. The steadfast love of the Lord is best experience in his house where his people and Spirit are present.
But let us keep our eyes on the prize. For one day, in paradise, all who have cried unto the Lord and considered his steadfast love, they will be saved from all their trials and tribulations for evermore. No more night. No more death and disease. No more unsatisfied longings. No more familial dysfunction. No more storms. No more bondage. No more sin, and no more consequences from our foolishly spurning the wisdom of God. The steadfast love of the Lord will be celebrated without end. And in that final existence we will still cry to the Lord, but we will do so without tears of sorrow. The steadfast love of the Lord will make sure of that.