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Worship in Hardship

02.23.20 Nathaniel Wall

  1. Hope for the Restless
    03.29.20 32m 54s
  2. An Attitude of Gratitude
    03.22.20 36m 12s
  3. Worship in Uncertainty
    03.15.20 21m 23s
  4. Fight, Flight, or Faith
    03.01.20 34m 16s
  5. Worship in Hardship
    02.23.20 41m 40s
  6. Finding Your Joy
    02.16.20 34m 05s

Worship in Hardship

02.23.20 Nathaniel Wall Revive Series

We’re going to jump into Psalm 25. We’re in a new series together called Revive. And if I’m just being frank up front, why we’re in this series together, we’re in a time of year here in Utah where you just get sick of winter and you get a little rambunctious. And sometimes this time of year can be a little depressing. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I love the snow. There are just some years that come and the snow drops and after one time I’m like, go here, we’re good. Where is spring? I like being outside too. If I could just get the snow and let it be like 70 outside, that would be the perfect world for me.

But you get to this time of year and sometimes it can get you in a bad place or maybe even over the holidays. You go through that time of year and you’ve just gone through a rough patch and holidays have this time of reminding us of loss a lot of times. And how do you respond in those moments?

You know, when you think about God’s word, God’s word certainly gives us this declaration of truth of who God is and even who we are in light of him. But you know, when it comes to the truth, there’s oftentimes what we know to be true and then there’s the way that we feel. Like there’s the truth that God proclaims, but then you’re left with the question, okay, but what does that mean with the world in which I live in? And trying to figure out how to bridge that gap between what God says and how you feel.

Now, certainly God gives us truth. Your mind, God gave you a mind and God wants you to think in truth in terms of truth. But God is more than an intellectual exercise for us. God wants to transform our lives. And so it’s important for us to understand not just the truth that God declares, but the way that impacts us with where we are. And the book that I think does this beautifully and helping us intersect where we are in light of who God is, is the book of Psalms.

The uniqueness of the book of Psalms is that Psalms, while all the other books declared us who God is and what we need to know about God, the book of Psalms is more man’s response back to the Lord. All the other books are giving us either this narrative or this declarative of God’s identity. The book of Psalms is man’s response in light of the beauty of who God is. It’s that way of intersecting the truth of God with where we are in this world.

When you read the book of Psalms, what you find is Psalms is made up of 150 songs that respond in worship to life circumstances. There’s categorically different songs written. There’s psalms of praise, which we saw last week. We looked at Psalm 33:1, it tells us to sing for joy and what it means for us to have joy in the Lord and how to find our joy. And joy is bigger than just circumstance. Because circumstances fleeting. But God wants us to experience joy in him.

So there’s the psalms of praise. There’s psalms of royalty. There’s psalms of trust, there’s psalms of him, there’s psalms of wisdom. There’s psalms that are given for special circumstances, which Israel would use to celebrate during things like Passover. They would sing the Hallel, which is Psalm one 13 to one 18. Together Jesus sang those psalms on the night of his betrayal.

When you think about these Psalms categorically, the most popular are the Psalms of praise. But second to that, is this category of Psalms called Psalms of lament. And this week we’re going to look at the second most popular category of songs, the Psalms of lament.

A lament expresses deep sorrow in troubling circumstances. Psalm 25 is a lament teaching us how to worship in hardship. What this Psalm does is it pictures life as a journey and it recognizes in that journey, really we’re not intended to make it alone. And so you’ll see if you go through this Psalm that the way the author expresses this, which I think is David going through some hardship, that he refers to the way of God four times. In verses four, eight, nine, 12. The path of God and in verse 10. Or crying out to God for wisdom in verse four and five, recognizing that in this circumstance he finds himself, which is difficult. What he’s seeking on this journey is the wisdom of God following after the path of God or the way God His response in worship.

There’s reasoning behind this. You see peppered throughout this Psalm that surrounded around him are his enemies, verse two. People that hate him, verse 19. Traps they’ve set before him, verse 15. And their desire for his failure in shame, verse two, verse three, verse 30. When you get to verse 16 of the Psalm, which is where I’m going to pick up, he finally gives us this statement in light of his circumstance, of his state of being. In all of this, this is where he finds himself, this place of honesty before the Lord. And what he says in verse 16, he says, turn to me and be gracious to me. This is his prayer before the Lord. And he says it like this, for I am lonely and afflicted.

This idea of being lonely as this place of deserted or abandoned. Afflicted is not having the sustenance that he needs in order to sustain life. When you read a passage like this or a verse like this, when someone just simply exposes their hearts to where they are, I think a piece of us in our human nature, we tend to connect with things like this because we’ve been there. We know what this is like. Turn to me and be gracious. You’re just looking for the gracious hand of God because in the midst of the circumstance, you find yourself abandoned, lonely, destitute.

How do you move forward? How do you move forward when you feel like verse 16 what do you do when you feel hurt and abandoned?

Now, I think our tendency as human beings, there are two pitfalls that I think that we want to avoid. I’ll talk a little bit about that. And there is a tendency in the way that we often react in circumstances like this that aren’t always healthy, and we’re going to talk some about this. But I really want to start with what the Psalmist does because what the Psalmist does is healthy.

And I want you to know when we read these first seven verses, this is not profound. This should not shock you. This is the basics of how we react in moments like this or how we should respond in moments like this. And it’s not to say we don’t know the basics, but before you get anywhere for which God calls you to, before we can really understand why in all things, we need to start with what we know to be true. And so the Psalmist starts out, first seven verses. I’m going to just read it to you, but I’m just going to let you know. Here’s what he does. He has faith.

He makes seeking after God the priority in his circumstance. And that’s what he expresses in these first seven verses. He says to you, Oh Lord, I lift my soul. Oh my God, in you I trust. Do not let me be ashamed. Do not let my enemies exalt over me. Indeed none of those who wait for you will be ashamed. Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed. Make me know your ways, O Lord. Teach me your paths. Lead me in your truths and teach me. For you are the God of my salvation. For you I will wait all day. Remember oh Lord your compassion and your loving kindness for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions according to your loving kindness.

See, while in verse 16 the Psalmist expresses his state of being. He also acknowledges throughout this Psalm, and especially here in the beginning where he is seeking in his faith in these moments. And he’s putting that faith, and you could put it in anything, but he’s putting that faith in the Lord. And this Psalm is peppered through this expression. So state of being, he says, I am alone. I am destitute. But he also says, and I hear verse one lift my soul to you. I, verse two, trust. This goes on throughout the Psalm. Verse five, he waits for the Lord. Verse 15, my eyes continually on the Lord. Verse 20, I take refuge. Verse 21, I wait. His state of faith is in the Lord.

One of the things that I appreciate about this Psalm and its candidness is that he acknowledges to the Lord the hardship that he faces. He’s not immune to this. This is not about avoiding hardship. When you think about being alone, this is not to say and if you just follow what the Psalm says, you’ll never feel that way again. That’s not what the this Psalm is about. This Psalm is here to acknowledge that yes, we experienced this in our lives, but there’s a way that the Lord strengthens us in those circumstance to find the goodness of who he is.

When David lost everything in his kingdom 1 Samuel 30:6 says this, that he encouraged himself in the Lord his God. I think it’s godly to tell God about the hardship you face. It’s not a faithless act. In fact, I think it’s a very faithful act because it’s acknowledging the one who supplies in that circumstance is the Lord.

And so just as David seeks that the goodness of God in the midst of the circumstances, as David in 1 Samuel 30:6 encouraged himself in the Lord his God. It’s saying to us when you don’t know what to do with your outlook, start with your up look. God, here’s where I’m at. God, here’s what I know about you. God, lead me in your way in this.

Where you go when you feel abandoned is an indicator of what you truly believe and trust in. And the ironic thing with some people is when others abandoned us, sometimes our tendency ironically is to abandon the Lord. We face hardship or run away. Or maybe going to the Lord isn’t even the first thing that we think about. Maybe we run to other people for comfort or possessions or places. But what this Psalmist is acknowledging for us, that place of beginning, that ground zero in this hardship feeling alone is to start with God. And he’s saying indeed he believes the Lord to be the answer.

Let me ask it to us like this. If you were to wake up tomorrow and you were the only one that was following after Jesus, would you still follow after Jesus? No doubt in the life of the Psalmist, he’s probably not the only one following after Jesus, but he likely feels that way, because of the circumstances he’s in. But if he were to stop following Jesus just because other people aren’t following after the Lord, the question you would ask is, were you ever really following God to begin with? Why are you following him? Is it out of convenience or is it because of who he is?

As you think about this, the basis that the Psalmist goes through is this thought of just simply faith. Seeking God in the circumstances. This is where it starts and no doubt elementary in its explanation, we should all know that. I’m a pastor, what am I going to say here? Trust God, trust God. But while we need to answer it now is this why? Why do we do that? I’m glad that we say that we need to know that God is sufficient for that, but let’s talk a little bit deeper about why that is.

And so the Psalmist continues to develop this thought in verse eight. Good and upright is the Lord. Therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in justice and he teaches the humble his way. All of the paths of the Lord are loving kindness and truth to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies for your namesake, oh Lord. Pardon my inequity for it is great. Who is man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity and his descendants will inherit the land. The secret of the Lord is for those who fear him. And he will make them know his covenant.

The Psalmist in this passage doesn’t just talk about the need for faith in those adverse circumstances. I know when you go through hardship, when people abandon you, there’s this place that wells up within us that wants to react to that circumstance that isn’t always godly. So he talks about the need for faith. But then within the context of faith, he talks about this particular posture that we carry in our faith. It’s highlighted for us in verse 12 and verse 14 he’s going to highlight it a little further in verse 21 but verse 12, 14 and then I’m going to look back in verse nine in just a moment. When you look in verse 12 and 14 he carries the similar thread of thought. He says, who is the man who fears the Lord? And it says in that fear that God will instruct him in the way you should choose.

Now verse 14, the same thing. The secret of the Lord is for those who fear him. So he’s not just saying, okay, you need to have faith, but the question is how do I know that my faith is genuine in that circumstance? And what he’s saying is, here’s how you know the expression of your faith is genuine in the hardship. It’s based on the posture of your faith as you’re going through that circumstance.

And so what posture does he talk about here? It’s not just as simply saying in an intellectual way, “I have faith.” But it’s the expression of a faith of a heart that’s been transformed in the Lord. This reverence for who God is. The surrendering to Him in the midst of the circumstance. The fear of the Lord.

Now in verse 14 he says something that’s a little strange maybe to us, he talks about the secret of the Lord is for those who fear him. This idea of secret is not saying, if you fear God enough, he’s going to tell you something He doesn’t tell anyone else. We’re not going like voodoo magic here. That’s not what the intention of this verse is saying, Another way you could translate it is sort of this idea of friendship council. Meaning, if you want God to direct your life, there are some that God doesn’t speak in their life, the way He tends to with other people because they’re just not close to him in proximity.

The more intimate the relationship, the more you know about the other person. The more your heart shares their heart. And what God is saying here is, you want me to guide you? You want me to direct you? What type of reverence do you have for me in this circumstance? Because I know how it goes with us as people when we face hardship and especially when someone comes against us like Psalm 25 is saying. Because welling up within us is going to say, what’d you say? I know you didn’t talk about me like that!

And so what God’s question is, is where am I in relation to that circumstance? How well do I have your ear to whisper my council into you? It’s not as if it’s hidden from us. It’s not as if you’re getting this special secret no one else has access to. It’s more of whether or not you’re willing to listen to what God wants to say in your life in those moments. And we think about this faith posture. I know oftentimes there are verses that talk about the fear of the Lord, but one of the examples I think he also uses in connection to this thought of fearing God is in verse nine. And what he says to us is God leads the humble in justice and he teaches the humble his way.

Some translations don’t just use the word humble. They’ll translate it as this thought of meekness. What he’s say to us is the posture of your character will demonstrate if you’re really walking with God, especially in hardship. Do you have faith? How do you know? Well, what’s the posture of your character in the circumstance?

Now, when we come to the idea of humility or meekness, I think it’s important for us to know that that meekness is not weakness. Don’t mistake it that way. Meekness is not weakness, but rather it’s power and confidence under control. Meekness carries this idea of being securely rooted in the identity that God gives you. A genuinely humble person usually tends to have two things working for them, if that humility is rooted in God. They have a correct perspective of who they are apart from Christ. And they have this correct perspective of who they are because of Christ. Does that make sense?

Meaning when someone maligns you, you don’t feel the need to fight for you because Jesus has already done that and he’s one. You have an identity and it’s not because of what you’ve given to yourself. It’s because of what Christ has given to you. And so with that confidence of who you are in Jesus, you don’t have to fill this need to react to the circumstances around you. But rather knowing that God is in control, you walk with this humility before him because God’s got this.

And so in verse 10 he says, in light of that, all the paths of the Lord are loving kindness and truth to those who keep his covenant in his testimonies. So it’s a reminder to us in the place of God when we walked before him with this posture of faith expressed in meekness. That we can rest in verse 10 and this confidence that we can be trusted in the guidance of God in our lives. The psalmist is saying, it’s when you face verse 16, this abandonment in your life, this destitution of the way it makes you feel. The most important thing you can do is trust God with a spirit of meekness.

How we react in this moment is important because this thought of walking in faith and meekness is counterintuitive to the typical way our flesh often wants to act in those moments. But here’s what the psalmist is doing. He’s answering an important faith question that we all face in those types of hardships. Do I believe God is big enough to handle the battle?

So oftentimes in our lives, what we want to do, our tendency when we faced that type of hardship and when you lack faith is rather than trusting God, we want to rip it out of his hands and take control the moment. Do you trust God’s big enough to handle the battle? When we experience Psalm 25:16, this abandonment, our sinful nature rages within us. And rather than faith mode in our lives, I think we go through two other expressions that aren’t necessarily godly. And I think that it’s not faith mode, but it’s fight mode or it’s flight mode.

Now I want you to know in saying that, I don’t want to come heavy on this or be judgmental about this because I think a lot of times our reaction is based out of fear. Of things that we’re going to lose. Of the way that someone made us feel. The diminishing of something that we found important. So out of fear we might react, but rather than faith, I think our human tendency is to do one of two things. We go and fight or flight.

And we talk about in terms of fight mode, what I mean is we go in fight mode from the Lord. We hate what happens to us, which is not necessarily a bad thing. If sinful things happen to you, it’s okay to be angry at sin. But what happens when we start hating the things that happen to us? We make ourselves responsible to make everything and everyone change. I don’t like what you did. I don’t like what happened. And so we go into this fight mode. To make it be different. I’m going to make the circumstance different. I’m going to make the person different. And just like they threw mud at you, you start throwing mud back. What happens? You get muddy too. We’re no better off than the people that made us feel the way that we did.

Now, let me just clarify this and say, I don’t think it’s wrong to approach sin. I don’t think it’s wrong to approach conflict. I don’t even think when the Bible talks about forgiveness, what it means is you just need to sweep everything under the rug and pretend like it didn’t happen. I think there’s a place and a time that when things happen and we know it’s not right, that in love we can approach the other person. But here’s the reality. You can’t change their mind. And sometimes when you know you can’t change their mind, the temptation is to try to make them change their mind.

And that’s when we go into fight mode. You take things in your hands and you believe it’s your job to change hearts. And what we’re confessing in those moments is that we don’t think God is big enough to handle it. Let me just encourage you, even knowing that the Bible calls us to seek restoration with people and to be forgiving. If a toxic person maligns you, if a toxic person abandons you, it’s not saying you have to go back and try to be best friends with them. What the Bible encourages us to think about, and I think what the Psalmist is doing is to leave space for the Lord to do his job. It’s not your job to change hearts. It’s God’s job. It’s our job to trust him.

In Romans 12, the Bible gives us this passage of scripture that I think that kind of runs along with what Psalm 25 is saying. It says this to us, if possible, so far as it depends on you, seek peace with all men. Be at peace with all men. So one of the things is acknowledging here is that it’s not going to be possible to be at peace with all men because well, all men also have to make up their minds. But before the Lord, what do you display? And when Romans is saying this in chapter 12, it’s on the backbone of hardship and persecution. People that are persecuting God’s people. And Paul’s response is, if it’s possible so far as it depends on you, meaning as far as your responsibility goes, because you can’t change someone else’s heart, seek peace with all men. Be at peace with them. Never take your own revenge, beloved. But look at this, leave room for the wrath of God. For it is written, vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord.

Now let me just tell you this. I know not all circumstances require vengeance. And I know that Paul knows that in writing this letter to us. I’m not telling you when you have something bad to happen to you, that what you really need is just wish the ill will towards everyone. I don’t think that’s what this is saying at all. I think Christians are being harshly persecuted in this and God wants the believers to know he’s got this. But he doesn’t want them to stand in the way of what he has in his control. He wants them, rather than to take his job, to leave that job up to him.

And so what is their responsibility? Be at peace. Be at peace and leave room for God to do what God’s going to do. It’s not saying necessarily that God is even saying the solution is going to be vengeance, but that if the solution needs to be vengeance, God is more than capable of carrying it out. Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord.

But this is what he says for us to do. But if your enemy is hungry, get this, feed him and if he’s thirsty, give him a drink and so doing you reap you heap burning coals on his head. Can I tell you, this is a very gospel response and here how. We were all enemies of God at one point. Hostile to his kingdom. And Jesus never stopped loving you. And that love change you.

When I was in college, I remember I got to this verse in Bible college and the professor was explaining to us the second half of this verse, because the second half of this verse has always confused me. He says, for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. What is that? We’re setting people on fire. This does not feel very Christian to me. What is this talking about? Some people will see this and be like, it’ll burn them. They just won’t like it. Well, I’m not doing nice things just to really put a dig into someone. That’s not my point. That’s not what God calls us to do. This cannot be with this verse is saying. Do something nice so that way you hurt them. I don’t think this is what this verse is saying at all.

I remember when the professor explained this to us and I don’t think he did a very good job either, but he said this: you’ve got to remember in Paul’s day, and even before this, because this is a quote from the Old Testament, from the book of Proverbs. He’s saying, you’ve got to remember everyone, their lives were sustained by fire. And if you’re in your home and you have to cook, you have to build a fire. And sometimes that takes forever. And if your fire goes out, what do you do? Well, you’ve got to go to your neighbor’s house and you take a bowl and they put the coal in the bowl. And then you walk away to your house, you carry it on your head, you walk away to your house, to your fire, and you put it in. And that was his explanation.

I’m like, what? Yeah, but who cares? What does that mean? He’s, well, you just do another nice deed, right? You give him food, you give him a drink and you give them fire. What a nice person you are. But here’s what I think this verse is actually saying. If you’ve got a jar of coals on your head and you don’t do something with it soon, it’s going to burn you. It forces you to have to respond to it. As human beings, we don’t like to leave things unsettled. We need to think through how to categorize things so we can move past it or understand what it is. We do this all the time. We label things, categorize things, and it helps us to process it from our worldview.

Now granted, sometimes our worldview could be crazy. But we all process it through our own worldview, whether you might think you’re normal or not. And what he’s saying in this passage is, look, when your enemy, who is mean to you, sees you not respond that way, but rather you still genuinely care about him. Even though you may not agree with the circumstance, even though it doesn’t mean you have to be best friends. When you choose not to go there, what you inevitably do is you keep this coal in their head. And what he or she is going to have to do is figure out how to respond to them.

Now their desire of categorizing how you reacted may not be a healthy response, but if you do it long enough, eventually they’re going to be like, I think their love is genuine. Why would they love me? They’ve got to do something with it. And that’s what Romans says. Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.

And so we go into fight mode, right? Which Bible’s encouragement is leave room for the Lord. Don’t take his place. Or we go into flight mode. You think about this idea of flight mode. It’s a little bit trickier in its appearance because it can give the perception of humility, but completely lack faith. We go to this flight mode, we run and hide from the Lord. Saying, we don’t believe God’s big enough to work it out. And what that looks like is you never trust again. You never build relationship again. You don’t want to be in a community again. You’re this isolated Christian.

And flight mode is the other side of the coin of fight mode. I think both of them can be done out of fear. Trying to grab back or not wanting to be hurt anymore, but you think about what that path leads to. Or you go into this flight mode and I understand you go through hardship. There is this period of time where we need to recover from circumstances that we’ve experienced. But what happens if you stay there as you rob yourself from allowing the Lord to work through you in community. And you rob the community of seeing Christ work in you. And you’re important to the Lord and to the body? I think when we go into hiding mode, we might think good, nothing bad can happen again. But you know, either way you go into flight mood or or fight mode, I think Satan wins.

You go into fight mode. He certainly wins because he brings disunity. You go into flight mode, he definitely wins because he’s setting you on the sidelines from doing anything that God’s called you to do. Either way he wins. But then there is this other place through which we walk, which is faith in the Lord. And this is what the Psalmist says in verse 25:15, he says this, my eyes are continually toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. What’s he saying here?

He saying to us in this very beginning, the very first part of this verse, faith in meekness. Faith and meekness. My eyes continually towards the Lord. And then he says this, he’s going to pluck my feet out of the net. And how in the world does the Psalmist know this? What makes him so confident that God will do this? And the answer is God’s already got the victory. Do you realize that today? In everything that you’re going through in this world and any hardship you ever face, Jesus has already won. You’ve already got the victory. Christ has won over it all. We’re just waiting to see how it all plays out. Jesus has won.

The reason the Psalmist confidently says this, is he’s saying, look, I’m going to walk with God in this. Faith and meekness says in Jesus, I already have the victory. But I’m choosing in this moment to trust in him to see how he’s going to work it all out. It may not be according to the way that you want it, but I can guarantee that what God wants for you is far better than what you could ever want for yourself. And so what the Psalmist is bringing us to is this place of recognizing, do you believe God is big enough to handle it? And if God already has the victory, he’s got you in this place to see how the Lord is going to work it out. So give God the space to do what God is called to do and you trust in him in these moments.

You think about this last half of this verse. I just want to give us a couple of massive gospel centric points as it reflects on this Psalm. And when you read these last parts of this last half of the Psalm or the last few verses of Psalm, verse 16, it says, turn to me and be gracious to me. For I am lonely and afflicted, the troubles of my heart are enlarged. Bring me out of my distress. Look upon my affliction and my troubles and forgive all my sins. Look upon my enemies. For they are many and they hate me with violent hatred. Guard my soul and deliver me. Do not let me be ashamed for I take refuge in you. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me for I wait for you. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his trouble.

What’s this Psalmist saying? He’s saying the reason we want to do verse 21 is because of verse 22. So the reason we do verse 21, let integrity and uprightness preserved me. See what the Psalmist is saying. He’s going back to this idea of in faith, how do you know you’re truly expressing faith? Well, it’s demonstrated in the integrity of your character, meekness, humility.

He’s saying, okay, here’s how I’m going to walk in this circumstance. I’m going to let integrity and uprightness be what I stand for because this is the place for which permits or allows God to move in my circumstance so I’m not taking his place, but the goodness of God can be made known. His light. So when you act like the world in responses to the world, where is God’s good hand in that? But when you love in the midst of hate, the beauty of God has made known. Make it hard for people to hate you. What he’s saying in verse 21 is don’t let someone else dictate who God calls you to be.

So let integrity and uprightness preserve me for I wait for you. And this is the reason why we do verse 21 is because of a verse 22 and this is where it gets gospel centric for us. He says, redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. Now, this is a die to self moment. But let me say the most important thing in our lives isn’t that God does what we want in a situation. I know that’s where we want to go. They hurt me, God get them! And we want everyone else to have justice and we want to have grace. The most important thing that can happen in our lives isn’t that God does what we want in a situation. The most important thing that can happen is that God does what he wants in a situation, which is the work of the gospel.

And we get to verse 22 you see this idea of redemption, this idea of restoring. If we carry our agenda, we stand in the way of what God’s agenda is rather than work with him. But if we trust in the victory of the Lord, it’s He that brings what the moment needs. It is God who can heal things that we can’t see how to heal. And it’s God who brings his perfect justice in things where we can’t see how to bring his perfect justice.

When you think about the idea of the gospel and the thought of redemption, redemption is more just justice. And it’s more than grace. It’s this perfect harmony of both. Because there are some situations in our lives that we look at and we think, I don’t see how God can turn this into positive in his grace. And I don’t see how God can deliver His justice in these moments to make it what it needs to be.

What he’s saying, the idea of his redemption is God does both perfectly, and he’s the one that can respond to the situation better than any of us can imagine. God can bring healing far and above our expectation. And God can bring his justice in a way that brings that healing as well. And when we walk that path with the Lord, we may not get victory the way that we think it’s best, but we’ll get victory the way that God sees best. And what God sees as far better than what man can ever see in his own strength.

And so what he’s saying in this passage for us is to let integrity and uprightness be what leads us. Now remember this whole thought of this Psalm really roots its identity in how the Psalmist expresses himself in verse 16. Be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

There are times in our lives where no doubt we can feel this way. We can feel lonely. But I want to encourage you as we reflect on the gospel, to never let the enemy allow you to believe that you’re truly alone. See, while the Psalmist acknowledges in this passage that he does feel this way, I want to remind us that Jesus was the only one who was absolutely abandoned. And the reason that he was abandoned was so that you would never have to be.

If you remember on the cross. When you go through these hard circumstances in life, sometimes you feel this disconnect to God, but it doesn’t mean he’s not there. And Mark 15, what Jesus said as he hung on the cross, he cried out to God and he said, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Theologians for centuries have marveled at this expression. That the Father would completely separate himself from the Son. He turns his back on the Son. The triunity of God has lived in perfect community throughout all of history, throughout all of time, eternally. Yet in these moments, somehow Father and Son separated. Jesus is abandoned.

This is literally hell on earth. Jesus went through hell. When you think about heaven and hell, the thing that makes heaven heaven isn’t a location. The thing that makes hell, hell isn’t about location. It’s about proximity in connection to God and relationship. What makes heaven heaven is Jesus’s presence. His gracious presence forever, wherever he is, that’s heaven. What makes hell hell is it’s away from his gracious presence forever. And Jesus in experiencing this separation from the Father. That’s hell on earth. Why was he abandoned? It’s so that you would never have to be. That’s why when you read scripture, the Bible says over 360 times, I will never leave you nor forsake you. Jesus went through this so that you would never have to go through this.

God is always with you. You’re never alone. What the Psalmist is acknowledging is God is for you. Give him the rightful place to work it out. Don’t fight, don’t hide, but have faith and meekness and recognize in Jesus you’ve already got the victory, but you want to see the how the hand of God works it out.

And you know what this passage is saying to us in connection to Psalm 25 and as look at this in Mark 15, that God is about community. When we look at this idea of being alone, the reason our soul is gripped by this, one because we’ve been here and we don’t like it. But two, we know that being created in God, the reason God created us was for community. Triunity. The Trinity of God has existed eternally in community and God making us in his image, He designs us for community.

So let me just say this, as a gospel centric, people moving in Christ. I know sometimes when we do things for God, we like to have titles or positions as if that makes it matter. But can I just dub us on a title or position this morning? You are a kingdom community builder. Here’s your title. Everyone here this morning. Because of the gospel, because of what Jesus does, because God creates us for community because Jesus reconciles us in the gospel and his hand is about redemption. What we should be about as his people, is a people of community. We should be seeking out people that desire to belong and calling people into relationship with Christ because that’s where we’re ultimately created to belong.

And so with that comes responsibility. It’s not about just putting a butt in the chair. We don’t measure the success of our church by our seating capacity, but by our sending capacity. And what that means is when we go out from this world because of what God has done for us in the victory that we already have in him, we have a platform to call people into relationship with Him.

Which means that people around you matter. And so when you think in terms of title, here’s what you are: you’re a kingdom community builder for the sake of Christ. Because that demonstrates what the gospel is. God wants people to belong and God wants people to belong to Him.

Is he able? Faith and meekness is a demonstration that the declaration of your life is a yes. And the victory that you have, you have the front row seat to watch how Jesus plays it out.