Ever feel like you’re barely hanging on? I’ve been in one of those seasons myself, so no surprise, I’ve found myself drawn in my devotional time to two faith-giants who spoke of distressing seasons and obstacles in their paths.
And both of them learned the same secret about how to endure trying times.
The first person is David. Pulled from the sheep field and anointed by God as king, you’d think he had it made. Instead, he was forced to run for his life for years until he ascended the throne. Through it all, David poured out his ups and downs in the Psalms. I’ve found strength and comfort in these songs of the faith and continue to work them into my prayer life just as women and men have done for centuries.
One passage that’s been galvanizing for me as I’ve faced things like anxiety, depression, and chronic pain is Psalm 142, especially verse 5-7:
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
because of your goodness to me.
David knows God is his place of safety and his provision, but David knows something else, too. How he weathers these circumstances and how the Father comes through for him isn’t only about him: Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.
David was imprisoned by his circumstances, stuck hiding in a cave from murderous King Saul, and he called out to God for deliverance. However, he wasn’t only calling for rescue; he was linking that rescue to the purpose God had ordained. David’s purpose was to magnify and glorify the name of God, leading a kingdom of righteous people that would reflect God to the whole world. David’s cry to God, born from his unwavering belief that the Father would free him to continue on the pathway He ordained, can be our cry, too, and be life-giving to our souls in times of trouble.
However, as life-giving as the promise of deliverance from imprisoning circumstances has been, I’ve also found joy in the Apostle Paul’s assertion that God can bring about His purposes in the midst of imprisoning circumstances. Look at what Paul says about his time of Roman imprisonment:
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Phil 1:12-13
So while I firmly believe we are to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16), I take great joy in knowing that my very circumstances may be the key to advancing God’s truth in the lives around me.
That’s also why I like to look at another popular “life verse” from Philippians in the context of Paul’s imprisoning circumstances. In its bigger context, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” becomes richer and more powerful than just a pleasant, inspirational saying we’ve gotten used to seeing on coffee mugs. Paul shares the secret he’s discovered whether in times of suffering or deliverance, in moments of sorrow or joy:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Phil 4:12-13
Paul trusted God.
David trusted God.
I trust God.
You can trust God.
The secret to hanging on when times are uncertain has always been that whether God chooses to deliver us from the circumstances right now or to advance His purposes through those circumstances, we can trust in His promises. He promises to be present with us, to be strong within us, and to transform those times into something glorious. We can rest contentedly, taking comfort and courage in Who He is, even when we can’t yet see what He’s planning.
If you need a “trust boost,” check out this post full of scriptures to help you build your faith as you trust in God: Access That Trust Fund You Didn’t Was Yours.