Thou, Oh Lord
One of the fallacies rampant in today’s Christian circles is, “Come to Jesus and have all of your problems solved.” While there is much truth in the understanding that coming to Jesus helps us in our problems, it does not mean they all magically go away, never to be faced again, and that people will like us because we are doing what is right and good. That certainly wasn’t true in Jesus’ life or those of His first followers.
Jesus was very upfront with us when He said, “In this world you will have trouble.” He didn’t lie to us or sugarcoat what we would face in this fallen world. But there are a lot of people who hold out the offer of coming to Jesus for immunity from struggles because they don’t like the message that this world will remain full of trouble, even when we are walking in the fullness of God. They are afraid that it would cause people to take a “pass” on Christianity because it doesn’t offer such an escape in this world. The truth is, if you promise something that can’t be delivered, people walk away disillusioned, wondering why it didn’t work for them.
What the Lord did promise: “I have overcome the world,” “I will be with you to the end of the age,” “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” “No one can snatch you from my hand,” nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, and many other precious promises. Trouble, trials, and persecution are inescapable, but the Lord is a faithful and sure companion to us in the midst of them, which the rest of the world cannot experience until and unless they turn to Him. And He is sovereign over the trial’s good purpose in our lives, as well.
This anthem quotes from Psalm 3, where David is faced with a lot of enemies. These enemies are discouraging his spirit by telling him that even God would not deliver him. Sometimes people say that to us because they don’t believe in God, and other times they say it because they think God is on their side and not on ours.
The enemies in David’s life ranged from the powerful (like Goliath, the Philistines, King Saul), to the personal (close friends, his own son Absalom, and wife Michal). We often face similar enemies—people who have influence, even power over us, such as bosses or coworkers who have the ear of the boss. Perhaps we have even run afoul of someone in law enforcement or political power, or someone with a dangerous reputation. And we all know we have an “enemy of our souls” who is actively out to get us. Those kind of enemies can raise a lot of fear in our hearts.
Or we can experience personal enemies. These may not cause us as much fear as they do deep heartache and grief. Many of us have been betrayed by someone we have loved, a friend we had trusted, someone to whom we had not done wrong but who had “risen up against” us. Maybe they even felt mistakenly justified or righteous in doing so, but the pain we have felt is indescribable. Probably the worse pain is if that person was a spouse or a child, as David himself experienced.
While David acknowledged the pain, he did not dwell in it. He turned to the Lord for perspective. He said, Yes I have many enemies. They rise up, they talk smack, but . . . “But Thou, Oh Lord are a shield for me. My glory and the lifter of my head.” With that “but,” David turned the whole situation on its head. The perspective shifted from the many enemies to the One salvation. To get to this place David did several things:
- He cried out to God. He didn’t look to men to save him. He didn’t go around trying to talk down the enemy; he spoke up to God.
- He trusted that God would hear and answer from His holy hill.
- This trust enabled him to lie down and sleep, awaking to the truth that God is the one who sustains him. That gave him peace.
- He chose not to fear. “I will not fear.” Fear is an emotion, a good and wise alarm bell, God-given for our protection when our enemy is legitimate, but it can also take on a life of its own and become destructive. However, we can hit the reset button on the fear alarm by what we tell ourselves about the object of our fear. David made the choice to turn off fear because he had turned everything over to God.
In this world, we will have trouble. We will have enemies, powerful or personal. We will have fearsome things happen. But we also have God to help us deal with our enemies. He may well take them away, He may give us the strength to face them, or He may withhold our vindication until the Day of Judgment, where He says, “I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you” (Revelation 3:9b).
Our confidence, always, is found in “But Thou, Oh Lord!”
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries