My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me. Psalm 31:15 (NIV)
Psalm 31 stands in remarkable contrast to what we have heard for most of our lives. We’ve been told to make the most of our time, to make sure we aren’t missing out, and to make sure we aren’t wasting our lives. There is an incredible weight that is placed upon our shoulders when we feel that our future success or significance is entirely up to us: our strategy, our courage, our cleverness.
In spite of our best-laid plans, life often has a way of breaking and humbling us. The economy crashes. A loved one dies unexpectedly. A cherished relationship falls apart. As Christ followers, how are we meant to respond in these moments of pain and trial? Do we blame God and get angry at the injustice of our situation or do we dig a little deeper and try to pull ourselves up by our own strength? Or is there another way?
We must learn to live in the tension of real pain and real provision. We are never meant to ignore our trials or challenges. The call of Christ isn’t to simply put on a happy face and pretend everything is okay. A simple read of the Psalms teaches us as much. The space we must learn to occupy is one where we are open and honest before the Lord about our hurts and disappointments, yet at the very same time fully trusting that he is with us and moving among us.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (Psalm 46:1-3).
In leadership circles, people often talk about the need to be a well-differentiated leader. Someone who is clear on who they are and who they are not, where they end and another begins. This allows them to live as a non-anxious presence, even in the midst of incredibly challenging situations. Of course, this is deeply counterintuitive as we most naturally are inclined to run whenever we sense danger, exposure, or vulnerability. Yet Psalm 31 is perhaps the greatest example of a non-anxious, steady and faithful presence. Even as enemies pursue and surround, the psalmist drinks deeply from the well of abiding peace, trusting fully that God is in control and that their days are always in his hands. May we, by his grace, learn to do the same!
Father, remind us that You are always with us and will never abandon us. Give us the courage to follow as You lead, even in times of pain, confusion, and doubt. Amen.