God With Us Through Abandonment – Rob Gamble 14/11/21

When you are happy, so happy you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels— welcomed with open arms. 
But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.

A Grief Observed – C.S. Lewis


C.S. Lewis seems to be asking, where is God in the darker moments of life? When life is well and all is good we can almost take His presence for granted but when life is tough, why does it feel like we are often met with silence?


Q. Have you ever felt like this? What things might have you thought or felt about God at this time?
Does God abandon us in the dark moments of life?

In exploring Psalm 23 we’re reminded that…

  1. God is with us in the darkness
  2. God guides us through the darkness 
  3. God brings us out of the darkness

1 – God is with us in the darkness.


“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” Psalm 23:4
The Psalm suggests to us in the beginning (v1-3) that God is with us in the best moments of life, in the green pastures, quiet waters and refreshed soul. Then, as it continues, it puts across the idea that even in the dark valley God is still with us.


In being WITH US, he SEES and UNDERSTANDS… an example of this can be seen in John 11. (Read this chapter for yourself, is there anything you find interesting about the passage in terms of God being WITH US?)
Something of note is Jesus’ reaction to Mary as she cries… even though He will raise Lazarus from the dead, His reaction isn’t to belittle or push her pain to the side: rather He weeps with her… He enters into her pain and suffering, He is with her.


This is something about God that we can hold on to and it’s something we can LEAN on… trusting that He is true to His word and that He is WITH US IN the darkness..

2 – God guides us through the darkness


“your rod and your staff,they comfort me” Psalm 23:4
The Psalm also gives us a picture of God’s guidance and support THROUGH the darkness.
The ROD symbolises God’s strength and power. It tells us of His protection and willingness to step into danger for us. The STAFF symbolises guidance. It gives us a picture of being draw close and guided through trouble.
With both of these in mind then, it encourages us to know that the shepherd doesn’t run off to save Himself; rather that He is there with us and for us in the darkness.
This then can provide us with 2 questions to consider, Am I LISTENING? What am I LEARNING

Q. As you experience the dark valley in your own life how might you know God’s guidance through it? How might you hear Him and learn from Him during this time?

3 – God brings us out of the darkness


“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow meal the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:5-6
Finally the Psalm says to us that God BRINGS US OUT of the darkness.
Ultimately the darkness doesn’t win, but there is a feast, a table, a cup that overflows and the experience of God’s presence. 

Q. How might it feel for you to know this, to know that whatever you are going through isn’t the end and that there will be a time when all wrongs are put right? How might these verses speak into your life right now?


Something we can do in response to this is to LOOK – to look in hope to God, knowing that He is good, that He is with us, that He loves us, that He defeats the darkness in our lives, He defeats the darkness that we experience around us and He will make all things new.


Psalm 23 can help to remind us that

God doesn’t abandon us in the darkness;

rather He is WITH US in the darkness, 

GUIDES US THROUGH the darkness

and He BRINGS US OUT of the darkness. 


Rebecca McLaughlin highlights that we can see this in Jesus … 


Perhaps you’ve noticed this is your own life. We can laugh with anyone. But we tend to cry only with those closest to us; and the bond is strongest when their suffering matches ours, because we know they really understand. In Jesus, we find the one person who knows all our heartache and our pain. Jesus was abandoned by his closet friends, beaten by strangers, stripped, abused, and hung on a cross to die. If you’ve ever been let down, teased or bullied or felt alone or got terribly sick, Jesus knows how you feel. There is no wound of ours he cannot touch. He knows the end of the story when he will make a whole new better world.

10 questions every teen should ask – Rebecca McLaughlin

O God,

I accept you as my shepherd:

help me to trust your provisions and obey your leading.

I believe you are my host:

help me to relax in your protection and recognise the signs of your presence.

In Jesus Christ, AMEN

Praying the Psalms – Eugene Peterson

God With Us Through Insecurity – Stephen Orr 07/11/21

Passage: Psalm 33

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11 Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Paul to the church at Ephesus (Ephesians 6)

The Battle

We are in a spiritual war and the devil will use apathy, anxiety, insecurity and abandonment, as part of his arsenal against us. And we know in our hearts that he uses them effectively. 

I believe the world, the flesh, and the devil are alive and well; and aided by our scepticism, they are wreaking havoc in our souls and society.

It’s a war on lies. And the problem is less that we tell lies and more that we live them; we let false narratives about reality into our bodies, and they wreak havoc in our souls.

John Mark Comer, Live No Lies . SPCK. Kindle Edition.

We see in Ephesians 6 just how seriously we are to take this and our part in fighting the war, the devil the father of lies wants to use everything he can to destroy us, so we need to work hard at putting on the armour and fight back. 

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Psalm 33 focuses our attention on the faithfulness of God. 

The truth is that we can all have times of doubt and questions about God’s faithfulness, maybe through life-changing accidents or diagnoses or just in the course of normal life.

Insecurity might be defined as the state of being open to danger or threat; lack of protection.

As we will see in this psalm, God is in control. 

We can have security, as we trust him. 

Another definition of insecurity is: uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.

Everyone feels a little unsure at times. As humans, we constantly think, and some of our thoughts can be filled with doubt. This can lead to thoughts of insecurity. Too much insecurity can lead to other problems — in relationships and in your everyday life. However, there are ways you can work through your insecure thoughts and live life more confidently.

What is insecurity?

Insecurity is a feeling of inadequacy (not being good enough) and uncertainty. It produces anxiety about your goals, relationships, and ability to handle certain situations. 

Everybody deals with insecurity from time to time. It can appear in all areas of life and come from a variety of causes. It might stem from a traumatic event, patterns of previous experience, social conditioning (learning rules by observing others), or local environments such as school, work, or home. 

Understanding the nature of insecurities can help you manage your own and offer others the support they need.

Web MD

Lockdowns have probably compounded and exacerbated issues some of us may have had already.

These two forms of insecurity, insecurity in our faith and personal insecurity are massive arrows in the devil’s quiver. We need the shield of faith to extinguish them. 

How can Psalm 33 help us?

We need to hear the truth in this Psalm:

God is faithful  

And because he is faithful, we can have, confidence in who God is, and his plans for the world and our lives – even when we can’t see the way forward. 

Because God is faithful: we can have:

confidence to praise him

The call is to joy and praise. Insecurity messes with our emotions. To praise and worship fully engages our emotions, in the right way, in a way that is good for us. 

1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. 2 Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. 3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.

Why should we praise God joyfully?

Consider:

  • Psalm 33 verse 4 (But how do we allow our confidence to grow – so that we actually trust what God has said and feel able to rely on him always being faithful and completely reliable?)
  • accounts throughout scripture of God’s faithfulness (Jesus restoring Thomas (everything he had believed was for nothing) and Peter (he denied Jesus and went back to fishing) in their darkest moments when their trust was at its lowest ebb and their securities threatened to overwhelm them (Do any other examples come to mind?)
  • the story of your own life (How has God accompanied you faithfully in the past?)
  • check out Psalm 33, verse 5 for more insights in into reasons for confidence in God and joyful praise (Do any of these particularly help you personally in your everyday walk?)
  • Read verse 6 aloud: By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. (Does awe come easily to you? What activities might allow awe to grow?)
  • 8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. (What is your response to this picture of God’s authority?)

Because God is faithful, we can have:

confidence in his plans 

Read aloud:

the truth that God is in control:

10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

confidence in the benefit of following him

Read aloud:

the truth that we are enormously blessed – seen and known and chosen:

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. 13 From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; 14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth– 15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.

Confidence in him and nothing else

Read aloud:

the truth that no one can save themselves – anything else we put our confidence in will fail:

16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.

confidence in him in life and through challenges

Read aloud:

the truth that there is a solid basis for hope for those who are in right relationship with God:

18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

Think back over what has been read aloud:

what word or idea has had most impact on you?

confidence and hope in him. 

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 33.20-22

Father God,

Teach us to wait and hope in you, rejoicing and trusting your unfailing love.

May these truths help us to extinguish the devil’s arrows that seek to destroy our security in you

and and may we grow freely into the people you made us to be.

Apply

What have I found interesting? 

What has challenged my life, attitudes and actions

How would this habit help me to become more like Jesus?

How would this habit help me to introduce others to Jesus?

What practical steps do I need to take to incorporate this habit into my life?

Is there there anything I need to pray about, explore further or extra help I need?

Is there someone I should to share with, pray with or encourage