Blessed be God—he heard me praying. He proved he's on my side; I've thrown my lot in with him. Now I'm jumping for joy, and shouting and singing my thanks to him. God is all strength for his people, ample refuge for his chosen leader; save your people and bless your heritage. Care for them; carry them like a good shepherd.
(Psalm 28:6-9 MSG)
Each of us have been through a rough stretch or two in life - times where we don't think we are going to make it because either relationships fall apart, circumstances keep us so frustrated and busy, or coming to the realization absolutely nothing was working out as we had hoped no matter how hard we tried. Companions may have turned against us, maybe even conspiring to destroy our reputation and keep us from some role we had been dreaming of all these years. The constant running, the immediate danger, and the ever-churning frustration causes us to cry out to God for help - it could be we are just left silent and pondering quietly what to do next. In our cry and depth of contemplative thought, we come to the place where we are acknowledging our need to "throw our lot in with God". In other words, we want to abandoned our own way of doing things and now completely rely on God to be all that is needed in the moment. God has heard even our silent praying. We can see over and over in scripture and hear it time and time again from other believers - God hears - the answer may be delayed, but he heard when we cried out - even in our silent contemplation of 'what do we do next'!
Somehow, we don't think God is "on our side" if we don't have an awesome outcome to every circumstance in life. We wonder if our prayers have fallen on deaf ears, or if he has abandoned us to our own devices because of some root of rebellion within that we don't readily recognize. Many times the circumstances have proven to be overwhelming, uncomfortable, or just plain undesirable - not because God has not listened or heard, but because we have chosen the course we are on apart from listening to him. Ouch! Now that I've gone meddling, perhaps I should say that I am not immune to this same type of moving out ahead of God and then asking God to bail me out! I also struggle with the "God, why aren't you listening?" prayers. The skies can be like brass to me, as well. The times when things don't work out as planned just keep on coming for me, too!
The conviction in the heart of our writer states clearly that God is all strength to his people - not just to the "good ones", or the ones that "deserve" his attention and get everything right the first time (thank goodness, because I rarely get things right the first time). God is ALL the strength we need - plain and simple. Finding ourselves in a moment of rehearsing our misery is not an uncommon occurrence - but finding ourselves celebrating the strength and shelter of our all powerful God should be the "norm" - not the exception. Look at the exact way God is described here - he is ALL strength. GOD - Jehovah - the one who is unchangeable in his promises, permanent in his commitment, and divine in his compassion - is all the strength we need for this moment. He is our physical strength. He is also our mental strength - giving us the power to overcome negative self-talk; the authority to stand against evil thoughts. There is a "potency" that is palpable in his presence. Where his presence is, there we will find ample resources for the present need in our lives. We just need to "tap" them - to avail ourselves of those resources.
God is presented to us as an ample refuge - not some mediocre, broken down shack we can find some meager shelter from the heat, a little protection from the rain - but an ample refuge. God is fully sufficient and more than adequate for every purpose or need in our lives. He is a God of "liberality" - a giving, caring, and compassionate God. His presence is a place of shelter and protection from all forms of danger - real or perceived. Three things can be counted on: he will save us, bless us, and care for us. Save us - rescuing us from all possible error or harm - which we get into or that comes our way. Save us - because we find ourselves in circumstances where we lack the power to come out on the other side unhurt and unburdened. Bless us - because without his divine favor, life is not worth living. Care for us - like a good shepherd, tending with gentle care over his sheep. Care for us - because he is concerned about us, and he lets us see that concern. We are God's heritage - we belong to him by reason of our birth into his family. Would God ever let his heritage go into a state of disrepair? Would he ever shirk his duty as the Good Shepherd? Absolutely not. When we feel the skies are brass - he IS listening. When we feel that we cannot trust - he is faithful. When we are more focused on the battle than on the Commander of our lives - he stands strong on our behalf. God is our ample refuge. It is time to lift his praises! Just sayin!
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