Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Psalm 107 {When you are at your wit's end}

I've camped out in Psalm 107 the past couple of days.  I have dwelt there and pondered what God was really saying through it. On the surface, it is a psalm that calls us to praise God for His steadfast love. But, as I dug deep, I saw the ache behind the praise.

Psalm 107 describes four types of hurting people.  All groups are in some way or other scattered away from the Promised Land and feel quite isolated in their pain.  I spent some time yesterday praying for family and friends that have specific needs right now.  It dawned on me that all the people I prayed for fall into one of the four categories of hurting people.  I can honestly say that I have been a part of each of the four categories in some manner during the course of my life.

Here are the 4 types of hurting people:

1.  Those Who Wander in Barren Places

  "Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    finding no way to a city where they could settle.
  They were hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away."

These hurting people are in the wilderness.  They wander around, hoping for security and the comfort of a true home (or what has felt like home in the past.)  I envision these hurting people as chewing off their cuticles and shaking their leg in a steady unnerving cadence.  Hurting people in the barren places are hungry for life and realize there is nothing in their power to create it on their own. They are almost frantic, wanting dreams realized or the comforts of the past to return. Their broken hearts feel homeless.

2.  Those Who Sit in Darkness and the Shadow of Death

    "Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
    prisoners suffering in iron chains,
     because they rebelled against God’s commands
    and despised the plans of the Most High.
     So he subjected them to bitter labor;
    they stumbled, and there was no one to help."

These are hurting people that have heard God's word to them and ignored it.  They have decided to go their own way instead of the way that leads to freedom and life.  Sin has shackled their wrists and they have become slaves to sin.  They are now prisoners to bitterness, anger, gossip, slander, pornography, unbelief, idolatry, pride, and whatever other tempting bait Satan has thrown their way.

3.  Those Who Suffer for their Own Folly

    "Some became fools through their rebellious ways
    and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
     They loathed all food
    and drew near the gates of death."

These hurting people admit they have messed up but feel hopeless because of their sin.  They dwell in the "stupidity that results from turning away from God."  They are at the point of despair and refuse to even eat.  They believe the Enemy's lie that says since they messed up, there is no hope for them and God will forever abandon them.  In essence, they are ready to quit. 

4.  Those Just Living Life (Sailors Caught in a Storm)

    "Some went out on the sea in ships;
    they were merchants on the mighty waters.
    They saw the works of the Lord,
    his wonderful deeds in the deep.
    For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
    that lifted high the waves.
    They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
    in their peril their courage melted away.

   They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
    they were at their wits’ end."

These people hurt because tragedy has struck.  They were going about their normal business, trying to make a living, and a trial comes.  The Word is clear:  God is the one who sends the storms.  But, it isn't necessarily due to any sin on our part. When tragedy strikes, these people are shaken to the core and come to the end of themselves. "We knew not what to do, and could have done nothing if we had known it.  We were as men distracted, and felt as if destruction itself would be better than our horrible state of suspense.  As for wit and wisdom, they were clean washed out of us, we felt ourselves to be a nonplus altogether."  Spurgeon

These people are at their absolute wits' end and can't even find the courage or strength to grab another breath. 

I recognize myself in all of these categories.  Each one is so debilitating and feels so hopeless.

But, this is a song of praise! 

After each description of the types of hurting people, we are told that each group chose to do the same thing. Four times it tells us that each people group looked to the LORD:   "Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress." 

He led the wanderers by a straight way until they had a home.
He ushered the prisoners into the light and broke every chain.
He sent out his word and healed the fools. 
He made the storm be still and hushed the waves.

Perhaps what I love the most about His steadfast love is that He hears all of the cries of the brokenhearted.  The first and fourth categories don't mention that the people hurt due to any sin on their part.  The second and third categories make it clear that sin is what has led to all the ache.  God listens to all the brokenhearted.  There are no prerequisites for crying out to Him.  No matter what the broken heart stems from, His grace and acceptance are ready to deliver us.

When we are at our wit's end, we can cry out to the God who is ready to forgive, restore, satisfy, deliver, and bring to a safe haven.

He is El Shama
The God who hears me.
The God who hears you.

Lord, we praise you for your steadfast love.