The sun rises slowly, shedding gentle encouraging light on the lush green leaves and in the comfort of my home my heart is made glad–my heart is at peace. I draw in my breath and speak my thanks. I have weights that bow me down low, but my breath is not drawn in gasps–I do not pant for dear life. I have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in my striving against sin. But I know one who has.
When I read PE, I am made aware of the intensity of life with Christ. Christ’s work is a gamechanger. I receive His grace and am made free and whole. I am restored. But I am also charged to follow Him, and that means all the way to the cross and into His glorious Resurrection. I am not saved to retire, I am saved to press forward in obedience. Ultimately, I am saved to rule with Him:
“The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:11–12a).
There are battles ahead, for we have an enemy of souls. God’s Word has taught me to look to each day’s gifts with a thankful heart and not be ambitious for trouble. To each day and to each person He works his plan in his time.
And yet, I am reminded of the true cost of my salvation to the One who suffered to the utmost extreme (Psalm 69). And I am reminded of those right now who are crying out this psalm to the Lord around the world, faithful in their call to the point of shedding their blood (Hebrews 12:4). This is not just idle poetry. This is the heart of the soldier on the frontlines for Christ. Am I such a one?
While I may not have soldiers at my doorstep, or be suffering inside a foreign prison, or be violently assaulted and left homeless for my faith, do I live in light of their suffering?
To be able to identify with their suffering, I need to understand their prayer. PE is such a prayer, as is David’s prophetic Messianic prayer in Psalm 69. What are they saying? What do they desire?
First, they have a life-dependent hunger for God’s Word. These are the words that give hope, guidance, discipline in suffering, peace, and strength to endure. They pant for the scriptures. Of course, we can spend money to send scripture through organizations that minister to persecuted Christians (Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs), but if we truly want to identify, must we also not pant after the Word of God we have here in our homes? Why is it so hard to carve out that time to read, study, and “eat” those words for life?
Second, they ask for mercy, which needs no explanation. When is the last time I cried out for mercy? Mercy for myself, mercy for those who also suffer, and even mercy for my enemies?
Third, they ask for preservation from evil. They know that the evil one is standing very closely by. Still more, they know that God stands over the evil one. It is within Father God’s power alone that the evil one will have his boundaries set. He is released for a time, but his doom is sure. They rest in this and ask that it be sooner than later. Do I come to the Lord when I am assailed, or am I handling life in my own strength? Am I resting my very existence in the hand and all-wise design of my Sovereign? Or am I angry with Him, and kicking my feet in the dust at his timing, or his inexplicable decree for my life or for my loved ones?
Fourth, they ask for deliverance. More than just mercy, they ask for relief. They know that their suffering is in God’s hands, and his timing, but they are not afraid to ask of God for He has promised relief to His children. It will come. But can I identify with this? Do I ask for deliverance from His hand, or am I taking it, again, into my own hands? Or, on the contrary, have I lost hope that God will hear my prayer and answer my plea?
Fifth, they desire the acceptance and approval of God alone. It is HIS face they need to see and know His smile upon them. When Stephan was being stoned, Christ stood to attention to receive him. The sufferer of Christ asks nothing less than the Lord’s benediction on their suffering and on their soon release. Can I look only to the acceptance and approval of God, or am I trying to squeeze in the approval of the world as well? Do I really care whether God is pleased with my patient obedience? Or do I try to squirm out of it at first chance? Is He my hope, or have I found a substitute?
Finally, they sorrow for the broken law of God. It is not their own suffering that breaks them, but the sorrow of God. And it must also be remembered that, like Moses (Exodus 32), like Paul, like Christ Himself (Matthew 23:37-39; Luke 19:41-44, John 17), the soldier of Christ knows what will happen to those who break God’s law and do not turn. They don’t wish for the downfall of their enemies, but cry out for their redemption.
Do I? Am I broken to see the adult stores dotting the boulevard, or the many children who are being devastated by early pornography? Does my heart break to see the disappearance of faithful shepherds in the universal church of God, or am I spending time talking about it? Do I see the impending doom on the horizon for our nation and for our world and rail about prophecy, or do I get into a quiet place and pour out my grief to the Lord–willing to be used by Him in whatever way as part of the solution?
Christ offered himself in this way. These psalms are the prayers Christ prayed and lived. If I want to follow Him, they must be my prayers and my life, too. God help me.
Father in heaven, this is too great a task for me. I cannot pray these prayers on my own. I cannot even conceive of the full impact of what it means to follow you faithfully to the death and through to eternal life. My feeble little mind is insufficient; I am one of your “little ones”. But even to me, you have made enough known that I can begin. Let me begin today and be my strength, discounting all opinion, upholding my reputation with you alone and with no other. In the name and the power of Christ to keep me and these who are following you faithfully, I commit this prayer. Amen.
© 2018 by http://www.readpsalm119.com. Revised October 9, 2018.
“Turkey Court Refuses Pastor Andrew Brunson Again“, Linda Lowry, August 17, 2018, Uncategorized, Open Doors USA. This link was added Oct. 9, 2018. Please check back with Open Doors USA at opendoorsusa.org to keep up on the newest developments.
Be prayerfully aware with me that Pastor Brunson is only the newest, most visible face to Christians being persecuted throughout the world. And not Christians only, but we remember all who face injustice. We pray for their release from oppression from sin through Christ’s salvation, and release from their human persecutors into the arms of family, community, and loved ones.