“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my afflictions and my distress and take away all my sins.” Psalms 25:16-18
A California Spring storm, found our large back yard covered in growing greenery needing a little bit of TLC. Remembering how soft soil is after rain, I got to work pulling weeds. Having lived in Arizona, where it’s mostly dry dessert and grows basically nothing green, I acquired experience with this tenacious plant. In fact, our pastor there in Kingman would often joke about how evil they are and tell humorous tales of his ongoing battle with them. On a more serious note, he would liken them to sin. As I pulled weeds in our back yard after the rain, I thought about this analogy. If we want to permanently get rid of sin in our lives, we must get to the root and dig deep to get rid of it completely. The storms in this life soften the soil of our hearts in order that we may uproot sin in our hearts.
Our hearts are the most tender in our moments of calamity. When all is well in life, we often don’t see our desperate need to draw near to God and to break away from our sin—big or ‘small.’ If we are not crying out to God, it might be that our sin stands in the way. Never are we so humbled than in our time of most troubling distress, dark loneliness and deepest anguish. David in this Psalm is in great agony and he shouts out a prayer for deliverance and for relief not only from his trouble, but from his sins. In verse 15 he realizes that His eyes must be set of the Lord. David acknowledges that God alone can deliver him from the snare he’s caught in. When we are in our own pit, do we turn to other things to rescue us? We may feel like if we only we had money, supportive family, a loving husband or wife, and so on… we would be delivered from grief. Indeed, God can certainly use these provisions to comfort us, but it is ultimately He alone that saves. Any aide we receive has been delivered to us via His loving and gracious hands.
It is even possible that God would use the trial we face itself to accomplish redemption and deliverance. Suffering and persecution help us think lowly about ourselves and highly about our call to holiness. Our Lord by His example Himself displayed the most magnificent picture of humility when we he was mocked, suffered, bled and died on the cross for the punishment He didn’t deserve. The big difference is that Jesus never sinned. He suffered in our place, so that we may never have to bear the unquenchable fire of God’s wrath forever. Our suffering in this life is an affect of sin, either indirectly as part of the cruse or directly as consequences of wrong choices made by us or others. In an upcoming book on Josh’s writings, he further explains the biblical causes of suffering, “Many times, our human suffering is the direct result of the cruel meddling of the enemy of our souls. But God wants to use this Satanic suffering in our lives to drive us to Him.” No matter what causes of the storm we traverse, it can be used by the Lord to strengthen our dependence on Him and get us to root out anything that has been keeping us from drawing closer to Him. “We can ignore pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis