Embracing His Loving Kindness in Your Trial
Psalm 107 has been called “the Old Testament love feast.” It is one of the most encouraging passages in all of God’s Word, and it is meant especially for those needing forgiveness, deliverance or restoration. The final verse promises the reader an understanding of who God truly is. “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord” (Psalm 107:43, NKJV).
If you read, observe and study this psalm, you will have a revelation of God’s longsuffering and lovingkindness even toward the rebellious and disobedient. It is proof that God will never walk out on any of his children, no matter how low they might have sunk.
This psalm gives us four classifications of God’s people who end up in trouble and affliction because of their own doings. The Lord doesn’t walk out on any of them, not one. See if you find yourself in any of these categories.
The first kind of believer in trouble is one who’s starving.
“They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them” (107:4-5). These people once knew the fullness of the Lord, but now they are in a solitary wilderness, wandering alone and unable to find the city.
“The city” in the Old Testament is always Zion, which represents God’s true church. Today, of course, that city is the true body of Christ who worship in spirit and truth. Multitudes of such Christians starve for a true word from the Lord, going from church to church trying to find their place. In the end, they give up because they believe there isn’t a church for them.
Some pastors and congregations simply have no interest in righteousness. The people care only about having their “needs met,” so the church’s schedule is full of activities like father-daughter dances and family nights at pro sports events. Do these activities cause hell to tremble? No, many churches of this kind are an absolute mockery of God.
On the other hand, some critical-minded Christians have become so hard to please that no church could ever meet their standard. The least imperfection drives them away. I knew a pastor who received an angry letter because his church bulletin mentioned “Singles Night.” The letter-writer accused the church of trying to pair up lovers. The pastor answered that he was simply announcing a night of ministry for single people to worship God together.
Without regular fellowship among a true body of believers, any Christian can end up cold, leaving their first love, wandering around, continually thirsty. Some end up sampling unhealthy doctrines, while others end up isolated and bitter.
In his mercy, God has provided a solution. “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses. And He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city for a dwelling place” (107:6-7). God says, “I’ll show you my church. I’ll lead you right to them.” He has his body of believers all over the world, and if you cry out to him, he’ll miraculously bring like-minded Christians to you. Until that happens, he will not walk out on you. He promises to manifest himself even where two or three are gathered in his name.
The second kind of believer in trouble has fallen into sin by disobedience to God’s Word.
“Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and irons—because they rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the Most High, therefore he brought down their heart with labor; they fell down, and there was none to help” (107:10-12).
Could this be you? You’ve sat under godly, convicting preaching. The Spirit has striven with you, but still you sinned willfully. Now you are back in the clutches of an old habit. You are miserable, your heart “brought down with labor.”
When a person sins willfully, disobeying the Word of God, his tendency is to hide, cower in fear and wallow in misery. He thinks it’s all over, that God can’t use him. When you’re in that kind of condition, the devil will whisper to you, “There is no hope for you. You’re one of those people who never change. Your sin has forced God to hide his face from you.”
Here is God’s answer to that. “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains in pieces. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He has broken the gates of bronze, and cut the bars of iron in two” (107:13-16).
Hear this well: God never has—and never will—hide his face from a crying child of his. It doesn’t matter how far you’ve fallen, how many promises to God you’ve made and broken. Your sins, though scarlet red, will be white as snow if you will only cry out to him for help. Only God can cut the bars asunder. Only he can deliver you from your darkness. That is our strength and our hope.
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them” (107:13). The sufferers in this psalm didn’t cry out to God after they were out of their mess; they cried out from within it! What did God do? He saved them.
The third kind of believer in trouble is a fool who has brought trouble on himself.
“Fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted. Their soul abhorred all manner of food, and they drew near to the gates of death” (107:17-18).
The dictionary says a fool is someone who lacks judgment or good sense, one who makes silly, stupid mistakes. He does his own thing without thinking
of the consequences.
Many Christians are paying a high price for their past acts of foolishness. Some spent a night in adultery and have contracted HIV. Some are sinking into financial holes because of foolish spending. Others are locked in a terrible marriage because they rushed into it foolishly.
The despair of many such Christians is unspeakable. They feel helpless, on the verge of giving up. One man wrote to me, “I feel like my life is over. There’s nothing I can do. I just look forward to death.” These tragic words reflect the psalmist’s description of this type of despair: “They drew near to the gates of death” (107:18).
You don’t have to live without hope. God has given you his promise that he does not walk out on foolish people. “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (107:19-20).
I get so happy when I read these verses because I know all the dumb mistakes I’ve made in my life. The Lord knows there are things we can’t change, words we’ve spoken that we can’t bring back. Yet he isn’t asking us to do any penance or make any promises. All he asks is that we cry out to him in our desperation. He can heal, prolong life and provide supernatural grace. “He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (107:20).
God will send someone to you, reminding you of his Word. All you have to do is hear his promise and cry out to him.
The fourth kind of believer in trouble is someone swamped by an unexpected storm of life.
As I read the following verses, I think of people facing troubles in their business or career.
“Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end” (107:23-27).
Businesspeople and career people are like seamen in ships. The great waters signify the big world of competition, an ocean of activity. Suddenly, a storm breaks out that is beyond their control, waves of problems threatening to swallow their boat. “Their soul melts because of trouble” (107:26).
They were able to solve their past problems, to escape one crisis after another, but there seems no way of escape from this trial. “They...are at their wits’ end” (107:27). They can’t sleep at night for worrying, trying to reason their way out of their trouble.
God alone can calm their storm. He alone can still those threatening waves. He alone can bring gladness and peace and lead them into safe harbor. “Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven” (107:28-30).
I want to tell such readers, “Don’t let your situation get into your spirit. Bring it all out before God. Go into your secret closet and cry out everything to him. He can do what you’ll never be able to do.”
God is not about to walk out on you. He is in your battle to the end, no matter how it came upon you. He is in you, with you and beside you, no matter what. “Nevertheless He regarded their affliction, when He heard their cry” (106:44). Hallelujah.