Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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January 14 – Persevering Through Regions Dark And Deep

“You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep.  Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and You overwhelm me with all Your waves. Selah.  You have caused my companions to shun me; You have made me a horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape; my eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call upon You, O LORD; I spread out my hands to You.”  Psalm 88:6-9

Devotional Thought For The Day

We had a rather peaceful and joyful weekend, so it is hard to turn attention back to this rather dismal and somber text from God’s Word.  However, there are people we know who are even now traversing these “regions dark and deep,” and we are called to do what we can to give comfort, support, and compassionate counsel to them, so it is good for us consider how a Christian abides and triumphs even in the darkest days.

We might consider it an error for the psalmist to “accuse” God of putting him into such dire circumstances, “overwhelming” him and “causing” his companions to shun him.  It is wrong to “blame” God for the horrid circumstances that come upon us – they are almost always “caused” by our own sin, foolishness, or mistakes; or by the wickedness, sin, and malice of others; or by the consequences of human sin imposed upon nature [and we contribute our fair share of such sin during the course of a lifetime].  However, the context makes clear that the psalmist is not “blaming” God, but rather correctly observing that God could have intervened and protected him, and his hope is that God will “hear” him, deliver him, and perhaps even vindicate him.  In spite of his inner “darkness” he continues to put trust and faith in God, calling upon God for help:  “Every day I call upon You, O LORD; I spread out my hands to You.”  So we are encouraged in all times of trouble to call upon God and to continue putting faith and trust in Him – even in those times when we must turn the other cheek and endure the malice and persecution of others.  And we should always remember that we deserve far worse, that God is graciously and mercifully protecting us from a host of evils and personal destruction – thanks and praise be to God.

While we despise the sense that we are utterly incapable of “saving” ourselves, the fact is that there are times when we are “shut in” so that we “cannot escape,” completely at the mercy of forces beyond our control.  This is much closer to us than we like to realize, our utter dependency upon God.  We prefer to live the delusion of personal empowerment and self-determination, that we can do anything we put our mind to.  The rebuttal of this comes in the form of hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters, economic and political woes, illnesses, injuries, and aging, and the times that wicked people invade our vulnerabilities.  On the other hand, there are many people who think that they are “incapable” of helping themselves, that they are “shut in,” who haven’t even really tried to extricate themselves, or given it their all.  The cop-out of “victimization” is alive and well today – blaming everyone else, and everything else, rather than taking personal responsibility and the initiative to do everything one can to help himself.  It is not that God “rewards” those who help themselves, but rather that His help most often comes when we are doing all that we can to be responsible and take care of ourselves.  So the old adage:  “Work as though all depended upon you, but always understand that everything really depends upon God.”  These two thoughts are hard to retain together.

We need to understand and be sensitive to the demoralizing and “de-spiriting” effect of depression and despair caused by difficult experiences – the temptation to just give up, and the drain of energy so that it feels as if we are “shut in” and can do nothing.  However, this is very rarely the reality – and we are called to prayerfully continue in faith and trust in God, DOING everything we can, even if it means humbling ourselves, in order to take care of ourselves and those who depend on us.  However, great empathy and compassion is owed to those who truly are “shut in” – and a willingness to endure the depression that comes along with such empathy and caring.  But in these “existential” and trying times, there is nothing more that anyone can do than what the psalmist did – continue praying and calling upon God, laying all of our woes and troubles out before Him, and waiting quietly for His deliverance.  And it will come, if not in this life, then in the next – and this will be soon enough for us all.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, grant us continued safety and protection from all that can go wrong in our lives, so that we do not have to endure the misery described by the psalmist.  When we find ourselves in “regions dark and deep,” remind us that You are with us always, working all things together for our good, and that Your grace will always be sufficient for us.  Preserve us from hardening our hearts toward those who are enduring grave difficulties, so that we do not desert them.  Grant us tough love and wisdom as well, so that we do not contribute to a false sense of victimization and lazy resignation and irresponsibility in others.  Help us to maintain and bear witness to faith and trust in You in all circumstances.  Amen.