David’s Praise in the Middle of Trials

July 9, 2023

Text: Psalm 116. 1-6, 12-14 (Third Sunday of Easter Year A; Covid 6)

Title:

Focus: Worship, in times of lament and suffering, orients us to the saving, keeping, protecting work of God in life.

Function: The listener should be invited to recognize God’s presence in the middle of sufferings and live a life of faith and rest in God’s story of deliverance.

It would seem that we are always on the lookout for a good cliché. We human beings are so good at distilling our experiences in to pity sayings that we repeat until everyone knows them. I wonder if you have ever heard some of these sayings.

  • You have to look through the rain to see the rainbow.
  • Tough times never last, tough people do!
  • When the going gets tough, the tough get going!
  • Sing like on one is listening. Dance like no one’s watching. Love like you’ve never been hurt.
  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
  • Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…its about learning to dance in the rain.

The problem is, if you have heard some of these sayings, when you are going through times of difficulty, pain, suffering, or even death, and someone offers a cliché up to you, many times you want to strangle them. The last thing you feel like doing when you are in a time of great difficulty is “dancing in the rain!” More likely, you just want the pain, the confusion, the loneliness to stop.

In Psalm 116, David is reflecting on some of his difficult times in life. One of my bibles labels this Psalm as a Psalm of thanksgiving after healing from an illness. The great Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann calls these Psalms, Psalms of New Orientation. I think there is something profound for us to learn from the Psalmist as we make our journey through the difficulty of a global pandemic and its aftermath.

David recounts the pain of his past. The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. (v. 3)

David even laments past pain. He does not diminish the sharpness of the pain nor the anxiety it caused. This is hard for us. We would just as soon move on, put it behind us. We don’t like to recognize or own up to the pain that we experience. (We are good at self-medicating).

In a brief few moments, David calls up the sharpness, the power of the hurt he experienced. All for the purpose of seeing and recognizing where God had been at work…answering David’s prayers, ministering to David’s needs, restoring new life.

You see, David’s response, in the face of suffering, of disorientation, of confusion, of hurt is to worship God. He acknowledges the powerful, delivering presence of God…even in the pain of illness, of suffering, of disillusionment.

Listen again to David’s affirmations about God.

  • I love the LORD, because he heard my voice (1)
  • He inclined his ear to me (2)
  • Gracious is the Lord, and righteous, Our God is merciful (5)
  • The Lord protects the simple. When I was brought low, he saved me. (6)
  • For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling. (8)
  • You have loosed my bonds (16)

In worship, in thanksgiving, David recounts God’s deliverances, God’s presence, God’s care. David reflects on the many times, specific times, God has cared for David’s needs, the multiple times God has delivered David from death and protected David from his enemies. David vows to worship God in Thanksgiving.

In the face of this difficult time, I invite you, and challenge you to experience God through worship and thanksgiving.

Recognize and lament the suffering you experience, the pain you see.

  • I lament the tens of thousands of people who have and will die of Covid-19.
  • I lament those who suffer this disease and die alone.
  • I lament the passages that people will not be able to experience because of the measures taken to protect the least among us
    • Graduations, senior nights, final seasons
    • Weddings
    • Vacations
    • Trips and travel
  • I lament the fear that so many people experiences, even those who have placed their trust in God.

But I also invite you to take stock of, to remember, to express where God has delivered and is delivering you. Offer praise to God for where you have seen God’s answers.

  • Healings, those who walk out of hospitals
  • God’s providential care
  • God’s voice speaking to you

Worship God for God’s deliverance…especially when you are tempted to be overtaken by fear and anxiety

  • Sing songs of praise and worship
  • Audibly voice thanksgiving to God for answers to your prayers
  • Pray prayers found in scripture…personalize them

Maybe this would be a great time to begin a prayer journal

  • Write down your prayer requests…with great specificity. List the date and your request
  • Review your prayer journal at least weekly… note the answers both partial and complete. Highlight them so they stand out to you. Give praise and thanksgiving when you see answers.

Watch your faith get stronger. Experience the peace that comes from renewed trust. Allow God to reorient your life into God’s story of deliverance and salvation. As we recognize and reconsider from where our deliverance as come, we become more aware and confident in God’s presence and action.

Benediction

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you.

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