Break Every Chain
When I saw the title to this week’s anthem my mind immediately went to Psalm 107. This Psalm is a wonderful expression of God’s rescuing love and power, and describes the many ways we can get into trouble and bondage, and how, in His unfailing love, He breaks every chain.
The first scene finds people wandering in the desert, in wastelands, suffering from hunger and thirst, feeling as if their lives are ebbing away. While most of us have not been in that state physically, how many of us have found ourselves in emotional and spiritual wastelands? How many of us have felt like we were wandering, purposeless or off course? How many of us have felt spiritually empty or unsatisfied?
The people in this scene “cried out to the Lord in their trouble and He delivered them.” He led them to a place where they could get what they needed. The Psalmist then says, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” If we find ourselves wandering, empty, spiritually starving or dissatisfied, we, too, need to call out to Him for His powerful, unfailing love.
The verses that the title brought to mind are found in this next section. It tells of those who sat in darkness and deepest gloom, prisoners in iron chains. In this case the Psalmist says the bondage was a result of rebellion against God’s word and principles. It caused them to stumble and feel helpless. Have we ever been there? Have we gotten to the place where we acted against what we knew to be the counsel and will of God and suffered the consequences? When we do, sometimes we think we’ve gotten what we deserve, so we wallow in our consequences rather than doing what these people did: “They cried to the Lord in their distress.” And God didn’t say, “You got yourself there, get yourself out.” He didn’t say, “I’m done with you.” Instead we are told that He saved them from their distress, He brought them out of darkness and deepest gloom, and He broke away their chains.
These people, too, were told to give thanks to God for His unfailing love and wonderful deeds. In His mercy and grace He will come to our aid, even when the chains were forged through our own folly. “He breaks down the gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” “He breaks every chain, breaks every chain, breaks every chain.”
The next group also got themselves into trouble through their own rebellion. How many times has that been true in our lives? Maybe it wasn’t even gross sin; maybe it was just that we went on in our own wisdom and power without consulting Him. They may seem rather unintentional, but it is based on a general, underlying attitude of pride and self-conceit. In the case of these people, their consequences appear to be physical, for when they called out to the Lord we are told He healed them and rescued them from death. If we are honest, we get ourselves in trouble a lot by foolishly flaunting the privileges of health and safety God has given us. We take unnecessary risks, we over indulge, we under-discipline ourselves, and we allow ourselves to become addicted things that harm us—even simply too much caffeine and sugar. But God can break these chains, too, if we humble ourselves and ask for His power to do so.
The next section of people found themselves in circumstances which seem beyond their own fault or control. They were on a storm-tossed sea which has sapped all their courage, and they were “at their wits’ end.” But they had enough wits left to know they needed to cry out to the Lord, who brought them out of their distress, stilled the storm to a whisper, and guided them to their desired haven.
The psalm goes on with praises, and wraps up with, “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord.” His unfailing love is powerful enough to break every chain in our lives—even the ones we forge ourselves—if we would only call out to Him.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries