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When I Am Afraid

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My sojourn here seems to have lengthened into a snail crawl over the past ten plus months. The news, the pandemic, and the uncertainty for tomorrow that we all are facing makes one quake in their shoes. I find myself praying more to the Lord about being afraid than I ever have before.

In a couple of weeks, our country will vote to decide who the next President of the United States will be and regardless of who you are voting for, it is a scary thought. Our votes will count for more than the next four years because with each President that is elected, it counts for policies that reach into future generations. I will consider my vote very soberly and pray that I’ve voted according to the will of God, and the candidate that lines up more closely with my Biblical world view.

However, I am afraid. I am afraid because I just don’t know what will happen. Yet, God’s Word assures me that I do not need to be. Again and again, His Word tells me to trust in Him and to leave my anxieties with Him for He is able to bear these burdens of my flesh. The Psalmist wrote:

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.” (Psalms 56:3)

Those words from David should bring comfort to me, but my heart is still beating erratically. “Lord, help me to trust You!” “How can I trust You when I am so afraid, Lord?” As I cry out these prayers to the Lord, I remember His pinions and drag my frightened soul beneath them and as a Father does, He wraps them around me and hides me. He beckons me to rest there where I can be safe. As I tremble beneath those sheltering wings, I hear the Holy Spirit speak gently to my soul, “Rest child and trust He who calls you His beloved.”

Still my spirit shakes with fear and I beg Him to show me how. Then more firmly, He says to me, “Child, all that is happening in the world is being carefully sifted through my Holy hands. Do you think that I’ve now abandoned you? Who told you such a thing!?!”

I know well who told me such a thing! I know who places the doubts and fears into my soul. “Oh, Lord, forgive me for listening to the destroyer of this world, please forgive me.”

In Romans, Paul answers my question acutely and firmly:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39)

In those last two verses, we are told that we can be confident through tribulation and to know that there is nothing that can come in and separate us from Him. What a sweet promise with much certainty for us!

There will be times when we are afraid, but in our fear we are sheltered beneath His pinions where we are secure and nothing can sever us from Him. Mary Sullivan wrote this poem:

Give us wisdom, Lord of mercy.
Confused we are by worldly things.
Instruct us through our days and nights.
Hide us all beneath Your wings.

In You, O Lord, we are at rest.
To our minds, the truth You bring.
Our hearts rejoice, with thoughts of You,
Who keep us safe beneath Your wings.

You are our mighty fortress, Lord.
Our King above all earthly Kings.
Your strong pinions cover us.
We are secure beneath Your wings.

Give wisdom to our loved ones, Lord.
Confused they are by worldly things.
Instruct them in the way of truth.
May they too hide beneath Your wings.

May loved ones turn to You, dear Lord,
Seek You as their only King,
May they ever seek Your will.
Shelter them beneath Your wings.

“He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” (Psalms 91:4)

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A Useless Wineskin

“Though I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget Your statutes.” Psalms 119:83

I have spent a lot of time reading David’s cries and prayers and praises to the Lord. The Psalms are brimming over with David’s laments. I think the reason I spend so much time reading the Psalms is because I can so very frequently identify with David.

Jeremiah is referred to as the “Weeping Profit” and his laments were for Judah. He wept over them because they had been taken into exile. He wept because they had been unfaithful to God. He said,

“For these things I weep; My eyes run down with water; Because far from me is a comforter, One who restores my soul. My children are desolate Because the enemy has prevailed.” Lamentations 1:16

David’s pain and cries were of a different lament. When I look at him, I see a lot of me — one who has fallen into the snare of sin many times — one who has fought tirelessly for Israel — one that other men sought to kill and destroy. David’s burden was heavy. The weight of his sins made him feel heavy and so he took that heaviness and turned to God with it.

After all that David had been through — battle, adultery, committing murder — and there is so much more — we are not even told the whole of David’s heart in the Psalms — though it appears he laid it all out.

David felt like an old, smoke-filled wineskin that was no longer useful for its created purpose. I didn’t know what David meant in verse 83 of the 119th Psalm, “I have become a wineskin in the smoke.” So, I paused from my study to research it and understand it better.

During David’s time they used wineskins to carry their drinks and when they were in battle or sojourning, they would have tents that had fire in the them and the wineskins would be filled with the smoke. This caused the wineskins to be useless, as they would turn black and start to be shriveled from absorbing the smoke in the tent and they could not restore them to new.

After finding what David meant by “wineskin in the smoke,” I then understood his heart a bit more deeply. I feel useless…just like David.

The sins that beset me and satan putting stumbling blocks at every turn, I cry out as David,

“My soul languishes for Your salvation; I wait for Your word. My eyes fail with longing for Your word, While I say, “When will You comfort me?” Psalms 119:81-82

Yet, he quickly added, “I do not forget Your statutes.” Then he declares to the Lord,

“If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have revived me.” Psalms 119:92-93

David said, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding.” Psalm 119:103 – 104

David knew and understood that all of God’s commandments are faithful (vs.86) — he understood that if he kept God’s precepts and meditated on them, God could still use him and save him. He would have been a useless smoke-filled wineskin had he turned away from the Lord, but he did not. He continued to meditate on God’s Word — even though he could see the enemy laying snares for him — He told the Lord, “I have forgotten your law!” David said, “I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, even to the end.” Psalm 119:105-112

Through David’s testimony in this Psalm, I have learned that however old or useless I feel, when I stay in His Word — keeping His precepts — meditating on them — God can and will still use me.

The feelings of uselessness are a deceptive lie from the father of lies. If he can convince you or me that we are useless, we will believe it and become useless. That is why it is so important to be centered in God’s Word. His Word is there to balance us. When I am still, there is no doubt He is God. His Word declares the truth and it is available to me to read and understand. David said, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” Psalms 119:11

When you feel like a useless, old, smoke-filled wineskin that has no more value…please stop and meditate on His precepts. There are so many faithful promises to us in God’s Word, but we will never know what they are if we do not pick up His Word and read it.