In the eye of the storm.
PSALM 116- 1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” 5 The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. 6 The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. 7 Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. 8 For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, 9 that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. 10 I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; 11 in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.” 12 What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. 14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. 16 Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains. 17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. 18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the Lord— in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the Lord.
The following quote from a pastor is a great place to start when dissecting Psalm 116: “Our tendency is to want to change every painful situation right away. But God intends, more often than we’d like, that these situations change us. Our embrace of that reality marks the place where another level of deep transformation in Him begins.”
The context of the Psalm consists of deliverance, particularly from disaster. The Psalmist gives a contemplative picture of his anguish within life’s turbulence: ‘cords of death,’ ‘anguish of the grave,’ ‘distress and sorrow’ in verse 3, followed by ‘death,’ ‘tears,’ and ‘stumbling’ in verse 8. You can feel the sheer gut wrenching intensity.
Nevertheless, there’s something we don’t see; we don’t see the psalmist running from reality. A whopping FOUR times he calls on the name of the Lord (verses 2, 4, 12, and 17). Even in a state of disarray, the psalmist is aware of who he is and who God is. In fact, Psalm 116 highlights key aspects of emotional and spiritual maturity:
#1, The psalmist understands that living out of a place of rest in God is a matter of life and death.
The eye of a hurricane is one of the most unique phenomenon’s in nature. Skies are often clear above the eye and winds are relatively light. It is actually the calmest section of any hurricane. The eye is so calm because the strong surface winds that converge towards the center never reach it.
In verse 7, the psalmist shows us what the eye of a hurricane looks like in his life: “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” The psalmist knows the only Source of serenity in life. He further illustrates this point earlier in verse 2, “I will call on him as long as I live.” No matter what seas the psalmist is navigating through, he keeps his gaze on the Lighthouse.
#2, The psalmist goes deep beneath the surface in order to be transformed by God.
The daunting phrases we mentioned earlier in verses 3 and 8 are bookended by verses 2, 4, 12, and 17 where the psalmist calls on the name of the Lord repeatedly. The psalmist dives head first into his pain and trusts in the massiveness of God. He knows the Lord is the God who saves. This doesn’t mean the Lord will always miraculously eliminate life’s troubles, instead He guarantees He will be with us through them. Have you embraced this, or are you blinded by bitterness?
As much as we’d like to run far away from hardships, the Lord specifically uses them to grow us up in Him. Running from this truth is a failure to live in a state of reality; it’s like chasing the wind over and over. God is on the throne. When we stop long enough to rest in truth, we’ll desire His will be done no matter what comes our way.
#3, The psalmist offers his life as a gift for the Lord.
In verses 14 and 18 the psalmist declares, “I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” Also, he calls himself the Lord’s servant in verse 16. Love God, love others; this is the entire Bible summarized. This is the essence of what it means to live for God.
There is no greater purpose given to man than to shine the light of the Lord for all men to see so they can in turn give glory to their Maker. That is the definition of lasting fulfillment.
Keep Looking Up,
Rev. Jon Barrett | Director of CVCCS