Thinking Through and Surviving the Hard Times

Keith Crosby 

There are times when our lives become so difficult that we mistakenly come to believe that God has abandoned us, or no longer answers our prayers (always remember that a “no” answer from God is still an answer to prayer). Always keep in mind that God never abandons or loses sight of us. All too often, we lose perspective and lose sight of, or abandon, Him. How can we avoid falling into this trap?

Reading and re-reading Psalm 139, a prayerful poem by King David, is one way. David lived a difficult life. How did he survive? How did he thrive? What was his secret? Short answer: David remembered who God is and how God is. Psalm 139 is an example of that thinking that we can put into practice in our own lives.

When things got rough, David reminded himself that God loved David despite the fact that God knew everything there was to know about David---past, present; and future: “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar... 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139:1-6)

Notice the past tense. God had known everything there is to know about David (v. 1) and knows David’s future choices before they are made (v. 4). As a true believer, nothing about David’s life will surprise God or disgust God to the point that He turns His back on David. Make no mistake. God hasn’t given David a license to sin. But as a believer, a true believer, God is with David through good times and bad. The same applies to you and me. God knows David. He knows David’s abilities and limitations. He loves Him anyway. Always remember this.

God also stuck by David. David throughout his life experienced God’s presence, even when he sought to avoid God. Notice what David says: “  Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10)

Remember that God never abandons His people, particularly in tough times. We might try to run from God like Jonah (or David). We may feel estranged from God as did David when he committed murder and adultery. But reality is that God is with us wherever we are. More than that, God is there protecting and guiding us as David realizes in verses 7-10. I used to tell my daughters when they were little that no matter what they did their mother and I would never abandon or stop loving them. People might try to persuade or deceive them into believing otherwise; however, the truth is that they would never be abandoned, forgotten, rejected, or unloved by their mom and dad (or God). Satan may try to whisper in your ear that God is done with you. But listen to God’s voice through the pen of David. No matter where you are or how you try to hide, God is present with you. And He will lay His hand on you to comfort you or to jolt you into repentance if you’ve strayed. Our all-knowing, all seeing God is everywhere present. He’s with you wherever you are. Remind yourself of this frequently.

When times are tough, remember who God is and how God is! That’s what David does all through Psalm 139. God made him. God has ordained all the events of his life. God is with him. God will guide him. God will use him in God’s kingdom work. God will never forsake David, you, or me. Our Lord and Savior will always be true to His people. Therefore, David, you and me need to remember these things and ask God to show us where our thinking goes astray so that we can survive, thrive, and bless Him and others in the tough times:

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well... Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" (Psalm 13-24)

David remembers that God knows David oh so very well. He not only designed David but Jesus wrote the story of David’s life before David existed. No hardship that David experienced caught God off-guard. David realizes that God’s plan is perfect. David realizes that God is all knowing. David realizes that God is always with David. David rejoices in the fact that David belongs to God and that God loves and provides for David. David also realizes that David is a sinner. So he asks God to search his heart and reveal David’s sin to David. David ends the Psalm talking about God’s searching gaze and knowledge of David (see vv. 1 and 23). David trusts God and doesn’t trust himself. This is what you and I need to do when times are tough. Like David, ask: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (vv. 23-24) This may not make our problems go away but it will help us to face they more wisely and more calmly. Granted this is difficult to do but difficult does not mean impossible because God is with us. All we need is a living, saving relationship with God, like David. Take some time today and read and pray through Psalm 139, making David’s example and mindset your own.


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