Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Like a Lemon Being Squeezed

                Have you ever felt like you were being squeezed? Lately, I have felt like a lemon being squeezed out over and over again, all my juices being pulverized. So many things in my life right now seem to be going wrong. The Lord God has brought my family through some pretty hard times, and let me tell you there were times where I wanted to give up, the pressures surrounding me were so strong that I thought I was going to burst. But my God was faithful to us, and He helped us. The past couple of days I have found myself back in the juicer of life, the mountain top has disappeared and I am put back into the blender of despair. As I was praying and crying out to the Lord God this morning, I heard this verse, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.” (Psalm 118:24) You know me well enough to know I had to go and seek out the treasure hidden in this verse. But what I found was more than I could have hoped for.
                “I called on the Lord in distress; The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear, what can man to do me? The Lord is for me among those who help me, therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me; It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in princes.” Psalm 118:5-9
                Distress has been my middle name these past few days. It seems like no matter what I do, no matter where I turn trouble is waiting. Everything seems to be happening all at once. (Can I get a witness? It seems to always happen all at once!)  I am pressed on the right; I am pushed on the left. I trip and fall forward, I trip and fall backwards. Every way I turn there is trouble, distress, and my heart has begun to grow faint. But I know enough of my God to know that when I am fighting these troubles that I need Him more than ever.
 David said he “called on the Lord in distress”. To call on the Lord means that you cry out, with weeping and with an out-cry for help. I definitely did some of that this morning. I was crying out, from within my very being I was crying out for help from the Lord. I didn’t know if He had heard me, I just knew that I needed Him and I needed His help, I knew that He was the only one that could help me. So, when I turned to this Psalm and read that “The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place,” my heart rejoiced. The Lord was telling me that He has heard my cry, and He will do a work. He promises to “set me in a broad place”.
Paul stated that “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—(2 Corinthians 2:8-9), and he was right. The pressure that I am feeling, the despair that my heart has found itself in, has a promise attached to it. I may feel like I am being put through the food processor of life right now, but God has promised to “set me in a broad place.” He has promised to give me the room to enjoy myself in Him, and give me room to thrive with Him. He is taking me to a large place where I can grow and have the peace that I seek. No matter how distressed we are, no matter how “hard-pressed” we are, God promises that if we put our trust in Him, He will bring us to a place that exceeds all our hopes and expectations.
God hears our cries and our pleas for help. He sees our distresses and our sufferings. He hears our prayers and answers our petitions. We can say with David and with Paul, that no matter what happens to us, no matter what man tries to do to us, no matter how little money we have left in the bank, no matter what we have lost, or what we will gain, the one fact, the one hope that we have is Jesus Christ. We have the hope and the promise of God that no matter what happens to us, He is working in us, and He is working through us to bring us to a place of rejoicing and thanksgiving. Paul goes on to say in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” we have a promise from God that when these distresses are over, when the affliction that we are going through passes (and they always do) He will be with us and rejoice over us because we put our trust in Him to save us.
All these struggles that I am facing, all these pressures are but for a moment. They will pass, they will be over before I know it, and when I have come through them, I will be able to say with David, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.” It is very easy for us to lose sight of the Lord God and His promise to deliver us when we are in the midst of trials and afflictions, but we too can sing praise and give thanks to God for His goodness, for His mercy toward us. When we turn our attention back to Him, and take our eyes off our circumstances, everything starts to become easier to bear. Maybe that is why David tells us to “not fear” (vs. 6) When I start to focus on the situation instead of the Redeemer, the pressures seem too much to bear. But when I put my focus back on the One who hears my cries and promises to deliver me, the pressures don’t seem as big as they once did.
Paul tells us that we are not to look at the circumstances around us, but we are to focus on and look to the eternal work that the Lord is working in us through these troubles and trials. (2 Corinthians 4:18) When we look at the promises of God instead of the troubles and pressures of this life, oh how much easier these afflictions are to bear. Not only are we going to come out of them, for we always do, but how much greater our joy and praise towards God shall be when we do! David could proclaim His goodness and His mercy even in the midst of trouble because He was confident that His God was able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that he asked or thought- we too can be confident of that very thing. I have experienced my God do amazing and mighty works in me and through me and for me, He has delivered me out of the pit, He has placed my feet upon a rock, and He has carried me through the storms of this life. I am confident that He will continue to do just that.
When you are feeling distressed, when the pressures of this life have surrounded you and you feel as if you cannot take it anymore- look up! Look up and call out to the Lord God who hears your cries and desires to deliver you into a broad place. He desires to set your feet upon a rock, where you cannot be moved. Man can try to do many things to you, but we shall not fear, because the Lord God, who made heaven and earth, is on our side. Our hope is in Him, and we shall say, along with David, Israel, the house of Aaron and all the other saints- “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His mercy endures forever.” We will get through this, we just have to keep our chin up and our eyes focused on Him. God’s word says over and over, “and it came to pass.” This trouble, this trial, and this distress you are in, it too shall pass, and we will go rejoicing together into the presence of our God and King who has heard our cries and delivered us from the depths of despair. Amen and Amen.