“Standing Faith” (Standing in the Storms)
Text: Psalm 23
We all have experienced trials and difficulties in life and dark days that threaten to overwhelm us, even sometimes to the point of questioning whether God really cares for us. Being able to walk through dark days knowing that God still sees you and cares for you in the midst of your pain takes faith, sometimes the greatest faith of all. It is in the midst of the dark times that Satan is the most active in casting doubt in your mind, in order to trip you up have you blaming God for your situation.
There are different kinds of trials; sickness, loss of a loved one, financial loss, violence, terror attacks, abuse and rejection by a loved one, the list could go on. There are no neat categories of pain and suffering, sometimes it comes as a result of poor decisions on our part – consequences for our own sins, and sometimes the loss is as a result of the sinful nature of the fallen world. The truth is that even in the midst of the darkest days, God is still on the throne; he is there for you and cares for you. But it takes great faith to see through the storm the faithfulness and the grace of God.
As we look at this Psalm we see that David begins in verse 1-3 by talking about God in the third person. It sounds like his life is wonderful and pleasant; all things are going well – green pastures – quiet waters – refreshing his soul. But then in verse 4 there is a shift; we get a glimpse into the dark side of the life of King David, things are tough, he knows what it is like to go through dark valleys. But notice it is when he focuses on the dark valleys of life, that he directly addresses God in the first person; “for you are with me” – “your rod and staff comfort me”. David found the secret to living a life of faith; it was clinging to the faithfulness of God in the midst of the storm.
David goes on to reveal more about the faithfulness of God as he writes in verse 5; “5you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Note Daviddidn’t say that God removed his enemies and then set a banquet table for him. He didn’t say that he was through the storm and now the Lord had blessed him with rest and a good meal. No, the Lord prepared a table for him in the presence of his enemies. David was still going through trials; he was still struggling to overcome his enemies.
The table here is significant; it represents the provision of God, it also represents sustenance and refreshment. In the midst of trials and the deadly onslaught of the enemy, God by his great love for us and his matchless grace, provides sustenance and refreshment to endure and go through the storm.
We need to understand that in our Christian walk is that there will be valleys, there will be dark days. Our natural tendency is to shrink back and try to avoid the valley, but just like the grieving process is important in the processing of the loss of a loved one, so to it is important to go through the valley to receive the healing and growth that God has in store for us. It is in the tough times that we need to learn to lean on God and to understand that he is still on the throne and working in our lives. It is in the valley that the Lord prepares a banquet table for us, where we can enjoy sweet times of refreshment and sustenance with him. The valley is a journey not a destination, we must understand that God doesn’t intend for us to stay in the valley, it is a journey that takes us to where he wants us to be.
The valleys of life are real and you will experience them; Jesus said in John 16:33; ““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” As people who have put our faith in Jesus Christ, we will experience trials and difficulties, but Jesus said, “take heart”; be courageous, don’t give in, trust in me – this where true faith comes in. When we have nowhere else to turn, that is when the Lord is the closest to us.
So what do we do in the valleys of life? How are we to respond when all that we know is falling down around us. David gives us a clue in verse 5 and 6. In these verses he is declaring the promises of God. David is still in the midst of the valley, but he has faith in the promises of God, he knows that God is the only answer and he declares the promises of God’s goodness and faithfulness (see 2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Our troubles on this side of heaven are temporary – no matter how long the trial lasts or how deep the valley, they are but a blink of an eye when compared to eternity and the glory we will experience there with Jesus.
But if we just try to endure, grit our teeth and hang in there, we are in danger of missing what God has for us. We might be missing the nugget of Gold in the river at the bottom of the valley (see 1 Peter 1:6-7). Peter is saying is that our trials are to prove and refine our faith, to bring Glory to God.
As Christians we often pray that God would use us to bless someone else, or use us to build his kingdom, but we shy away from the refining process. The writer Philip Keller wrote that water can only flow in a ditch or a channel. And this channel might have been carved out of hard rock by the excruciating process of erosion or excavation. The process is painful, but the end result is that we are able to bring rivers of living water to those around us as we use those scars and channels for the Glory of God.