In Psalm 4:1, King David said this, “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.”
If anyone in the Bible went through distressing and stressful situations, King David would have to come in near the top. I can only imagine everything that he went through; from facing Goliath, fleeing for his life from Saul (The man he honored), to fighting war after war, King David new a thing or two about distress!
Distress is not fun. There is nothing fun about not knowing how to swim and having someone throw you in the ocean. However, when distress draws us closer unto Christ and enlarges us in Him, it becomes a way for us to learn trust and faith. Not a trust in ourselves or a faith in our own ability, but, in fact, the exact opposite. It is an understanding that without Christ you have no faith or ability!
Now I’m not talking about the cheesy, churchy way of saying “You just gotta trust Jesus” the way many professed Christians say it, with a smile on their face and without even the slightest clue of what they’re talking about. I’m talking about a true reliance upon Christ, and Christ alone, to work out all things together for good, to those that love God and those who are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).
The Lord may allow you to endure trials, tribulations, and afflictions without much help from anyone else. In fact, you may feel quite alone, but you’re never alone, because the Lord promised He would never leave you nor for sake you (Hebrews 13:5). You may feel as though you are walking in the dark, but as long as the Lord has your hand, remember, He is the one who sees all things. He is the one who knows all things and He knows where to lead and guide you!
For example, just yesterday Bradlee was scheduled to leave to go to Arizona to do a couple of Tea Party events. One Tea Party being the largest tea party in the nation and the other event with three tea party groups joining together – some pretty important ministry events. Now keep in mind, we are talking about distress and the way the Lord leads us at times gives us no other option, but to trust in his faithfulness.
I get a phone call from my mom the night before telling us that is supposed to start snowing, so we might want to get a hotel room near the airport since we live pretty far away. I replied, more or less, that we would be fine. We get home, and then proceed to get another phone call from the guy who is supposed to go with Bradlee on the trip, saying he cannot go because his wife’s expecting to have a baby. Keep in mind this is the night before Bradlee is scheduled to leave. This is where the word distress comes into play.
So, I then proceeded to call my dad to see if he can make the trip last minute, call the airline to see if they can change the name, and pack the bag before going to bed, etc. Bradlee then wakes me up at some point during the night to tell me that it’s snowing. Yeah. That’s a big surprise coming from the state of Minnesota! However, this just happens to be the first snowstorm of the year the night before he is supposed to leave. It’s not just a 50% chance of snow or something like that, it is a 100% chance of snow! I have never even seen a 100% chance of snow before in my life…ever! But, welcome to the world of ministry and the “this never happened before” saying we hear all the time.
It continues to snow, and snow, and snow. The guy who is supposed to pick Bradlee up to go to the airport, cannot even make it up our driveway. So I watch as Bradlee walks down our about a fourth of a mile driveway, looking like the snowman in a winter wonderland postcard. On their way to the airport, I am checking the status of the flight to make sure nothing is delayed. Lo and behold his flight is delayed, but it’s not that much of a delay so he’ll still be able to make it on time. Then a little while later I get another email saying that his flight has been delayed…again. Okay, no problem we can still get through this and manage to be on time as long as there’s no more delays!
After a while, I check again and uh oh… there is another delay. On top of that, once they actually get in the airplane they end up driving around for a while on the ground and de-icing the plane! All in all, I received six emails from the airline about his flight being changed in some way, and whereas he was originally scheduled to be in Arizona at 5:11pm he ended up arriving at 6:55pm. Now, keep in mind the meeting starts at 7:00pm and it’s 45 minutes away. I was probably more stressed sitting at home, than Bradlee was in the actual situation.
I’m calling the Tea Party contacts to let them know the status of everything, going back-and-forth with Bradlee while he is on the airplane and after he lands, I readjusted his car rental time, and sent him the address he needed to punch in the directions so they can make it there on time. I informed the lady from the Tea Party what road he was traveling on and that he would be there as soon as possible, only to have her inform me that he is going the wrong direction. Fortunately, it turned out he was not going the wrong direction and ended up making it there by 8:00pm. The miraculous part about all of this was, it went great once he got there and everyone was really happy with the evening! Christ was glorified, and my heart was enlarged in distress. If we didn’t experience trouble, I believe it would be because we were not effective! This is just one of many situations I could share.
Or how about the Apostle Paul? Listen to what distress he experienced in his Life.
“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-30)
What would you or I have to teach a man such as Paul who experienced these things? Nothing. I don’t think any of us could tell Paul anything that would compare our lives with his, but even though our experiences may pale in comparison to Paul’s, we can say with him that no matter what we go through, we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. (Romans 8:37)
Elisabeth Elliot, whose husband was killed while serving as a missionary who God had lead to reach an Indian tribe in Ecuador (Who had never heard about the Lord before), said this:
“If my life is surrendered to God, all is well. Let me not grab it back, as though it were in peril in His hand but would be safer in mine!”
In all your distresses, remember, Christ is true time and time and time again! He, and He alone will get you through. When you place your trust in the Lord, you are saying, “You know better than I. You know more than I. I give you my heart for safekeeping.” Let us say as Elisabeth Elliot did, “Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you” and remember, Christ knows better than you!