We all experience “storms” in our life. When we are going through the storms, we have the choice to despair in our circumstances or to praise the Lord. Even in our storms, we can trust in the Lord. And because of our faith in His power and His faithfulness, we praise Him because He has been good to us. That’s what David was singing about in Psalm 13. He was wrestling with his thoughts of despair, but made the choice to praise the Lord anyway. “But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.” (Ps. 13:5-6)
There have been several times in my life when I was in deep despair, and wanted to die. It is truly only because of God’s grace that I was able to climb out of the hole I found myself in. In times of despair, it is much harder to hold on than to give up. But if we give up on God, then we are giving in to a life of despair, and are choosing to live a defeated life. As Christ followers we are not defeated. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37)
When the Holy Spirit sealed us, we were also blessed “with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). So instead of falling into deeper despair, it is during these times especially that we should praise the Lord for who He is–Faithful and True–and for what He has done. Praising Him takes the focus off of our circumstances and puts our focus on the Lord. “I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.” (Ps. 34:1-3)
God promises great blessings to His people, but many of these blessings require active participation. He will deliver us from fear (Ps 34:4); save us out of troubles (v 6); guard and deliver us (v 7); show us goodness (v 8); supply our needs (v 9); listen when we talk to Him (v 15); and redeem us (v 22), but we must do our part. We can appropriate His blessings when we seek Him (vv 4, 10); cry out to Him (vv 6, 17); trust Him (v 8); fear Him (vv 7, 9); refrain from lying (v 13); turn from evil, do good and seek peace (v 14); are humble (v 18); and serve Him (v 22).
We don’t have a blanket promise that all Christians will have everything that we want, instead all those who call upon the Lord in their need will be answered, sometimes in unexpected ways. God may allow us to go without to help us grow more dependent upon Him. He may want us to learn that we need Him more than achieving our immediate desires or having our needs met. He knows what’s best for us, so we are to praise Him.
Even in times of starvation and loss, Habakkuk confirmed that he would still rejoice in the Lord (Hab. 3:16-18). His feelings weren’t controlled by the circumstances (there was no food), but instead by faith in God’s ability to give him strength. When nothing makes sense and when troubles seem more than you can bear, remember that God gives strength. We are to take our eyes off of the difficulties and look to our Lord who is over all circumstances. God is alive and in control of the world and its events. We cannot see all that God will do, but we can be assured that He is God and will do what is right. Knowing this can give us confidence and hope in a confusing world.
Whatever storm you may find yourself in now (or to come), let’s respond as Habakkuk did, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (v 18) and remember that “the Sovereign Lord is my strength” (v 19), who will give us the strength to rejoice in Him.