Text: Psalm 119:121-128
There are many causes of stress. But a better question to ask is what’s the solution? Some depend on chemicals like alcohol or prescription drugs to numb our emotions. Others turn to entertainment to distract them from reality. But we know these don’t really fix anything. No matter the cause, God wants us to go to Him as the solution so that when we’re under pressure we can find peace.
In David crying out for God’s help, we can see three important encouragements for us that can give us peace in our times of stress:
1. God gives assurance to the oppressed. (vv. 121-123)
David refers to himself as God’s servant. That’s another way of saying, “Lord, I belong to you. I am yours.” And as God’s servant, David asks for a “pledge of good”. That’s a request to take responsibility for the debt of another. Take up my cause. Intervene and remove my heavy load. David is praying for and longing for God’s intervention. And even in this prayer, he is pointing forward to the One who would come and intervene for all of God’s people. That “pledge of good”, that guarantee of God’s promises coming to pass, was perfectly fulfilled by God when He sent Jesus to die for the sins of His people, the “guarantor of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22).
There is no greater assurance we have, when we feel stressed, when we feel oppressed, than to remember our Savior, the One who came to take our heavy load upon Himself, to die for our sins, to wash us clean, to rescue us from the oppression of the devil, to defeat every evil force and give us victory over sin and the grave, and to give us freedom and abundant life in Him.
2. God gives understanding to the humble. (vv. 124-125)
David refers to himself as God’s servant. This is a clear posture of humility, of submitting himself under the authority and power of the Lord, affirming that David knows man is not in control. God is in control. And he’s asking God for understanding. “Lord, help me to understand your ways. Help me to know and to trust you and your character, even in the midst of my trial.” What humility. For David to be stressed and facing his oppressors, but he’s asking God to grant him understanding.
To be humble is to be teachable. That posture of the heart is saying, “God I don’t know everything. I’m not self-sufficient. I belong to you. I need you. Teach me.” God promises to give grace to the humble. When we hurt, we don’t think clearly. We just want the hurt to stop. And it’s ok to pray for that. But if you’ve been going through a trial, and it doesn’t seem to be letting up, start praying for understanding. Some trials we go through are brief. Some are long. In both, these are opportunities for us, like David, to humble ourselves before God, to submit ourselves under His authority, under His power and His loving care, and to ask for understanding.
When we humble ourselves like David did, and ask the Lord to teach us… “teach me to know you, teach me to trust you, teach me to love you”, that’s the kind of prayer God is pleased to answer.
3. God gives comfort to the patient. (vv. 126-128)
Trusting in God’s timing can be very difficult, especially when we are under pressure. In a trial, our chief desire is to get relief. “Just take it away God. Make it stop.” But God’s ways are not our ways. His priorities are greater. God takes no pleasure in seeing His children suffer, but God is also big enough and powerful enough and loving enough to use our trial for our good.
He’s not forced to just “make it stop”. Sometimes that would not be the best for us anyway, especially if our hearts had not been affected, or our faith had not yet been strengthened. God is in the trial with us, giving us comfort, providing us with strength, giving us hope. And eventually – either in this life or the next – He will let justice be done.
What we do while we wait can make all the difference. When we are waiting on God’s timing in a situation, asking God to hurry up and answer a prayer, let’s not waste the wait. That waiting time is precious. That’s the time for us to be immersed in prayer, filling our hearts with scripture, being in fellowship with other believers. In our times of weakness, the devil tempts us to isolate. But God wants us to press in. It’s in those moments when I’m stressed, when I’m tempted to self-medicate, tempted to give up and give in, I can go to God’s word instead. I can be reminded of what is true. That will give me patience. That will give me peace.