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You cried out to Me, I heard your distress, and I delivered you; I answered you from the secret place,where clouds of thunder roll.  (Psalm 81:7 VOICE)

Distress is the condition of great pain, anxiety, or sorrow.  It can be real or imagined - acute or chronic.  It have both physical and mental aspects.  The extent to which one experiences distress has the potential to also be the extent to which one experiences God's deliverance and grace!  "The darkest day, if you live till tomorrow, will have passed away."  (William Cowper)  Much can be said about the dawning of a new day and the potential it brings, but even the brightest of days can be overshadowed by the greatest of distress.

If you ever wondered why those who are in distress send out the "S.O.S" signal, it may because in those places of our darkest hours we experience the depth of longing for someone to simply "save our souls".  We cannot do it ourselves and we earnestly desire for someone else to come along, bear the burden we have been carrying, and release us from the tremendous physical and mental anguish we have been enduring.  The one experiencing the sinking ship doesn't need another oar, but rather a life raft!  God knows our specific need and he matches the intervention with that need!

God isn't cruel when he awaits our cries for help - sending up those "save our souls" messages to him.  It is almost as though he allows us to experience a little more of the salty waters battering us around more than we'd like, because the truth is that even in the darkest hour of our anguish, we sometimes think we can swim to shore!  Many of us would rather swim than admit we need anyone to intervene for us - that is until the sharks start circling us!  Amazingly, the strength which bore us up in determined stubbornness up to the point we saw the fins emerge from the darkest sea just vanishes in the presence of that which now stands between us and our deliverance!

Distress isn't God's plan for our lives, but it may be what drives us to our knees, allowing us to admit we are not able to "swim to shore".  It may be what reveals the hardness of our hearts, but it just may also be the avenue by which God shows us how much our hearts can be changed in his care.  Job was a man who lived his life to please God and he experienced some of the greatest of distress a man can endure.  He lost flocks and herds to the invading thieves, wildfires, and gangs from far off lands - financial woes.  He lost all his children to the ravages of a storm so great it leveled the home where they were gathered to feast together - relationship woes.  He lost his health, experiencing great physical agony on top of these financial and relationship woes.  Yet, in all his agony (distress), he comes to the same conclusion - God awaits his cries for help.

Did Job get there immediately, or did he have to wallow in his distress a little? It may give you encouragement to realize he was just like us - wallowing a little, agonizing over his condition, and even complaining about what fate had come his way.  He even was observed questioning if he actually "deserved" this misfortune.  Sound like anyone you might know?  I can admit to some of the same reactions to my own distress in life - I didn't like it one bit, complained a whole lot, and eventually came to the same conclusion as did Job - when we are willing to lift the "SOS", God is finally free to intervene!  As long as we continue to think we can save our own souls, God will allow us to experience the futility of that plan!  Just sayin!


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