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September 25, 2022 7:00 pm
I trust this that the words that we've song that are rooted in truth in Scripture would anchor our souls this morning and I'm confident have been preparatory for the preaching of the word of God. The title of my message this morning is trusting God in hard times sounds better than the dark night of the soul, at least same sentimental trusting God in hard times. Although technically Psalm 88 is not one of the lament Psalms that has that genre flavor to it.
It's uncharacteristic added to the lament Psalms because the lament Psalms typically take you on a journey they began in despair and pessimism and darkness and difficulty in trial and move you through and usually conclude with renewed confidence, renewed hope, faith in God and that's where the similarities end because the Psalm doesn't have that flow to it. It it starts well and but where it starts.
It just is a downward dissent and never comes up so it's unique in that way, you say all great just what I need to hear just what I hoped I'd here this morning something uplifting, something optimistic, something Oakville you say pastor why are we here why this song will because we all will find ourselves in such a place at some time in our lives, if not right now. I remind you that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, or instruction in righteousness.
The demand of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. What is the dark night of the soul. How would we define that well.
It is a state of intense anguish in which the struggling despairing believer feels as though he has been abandoned by God. As we walk our way through the Psalm. I want you to make a conscious delineation between what the psalmist is describing in terms of his experience and how he feels what you identify with him as a believer in his ear identifying with them. I like you a lot at the same time be correcting his buddies communicating because there is a disconnect between what a believer knows what a believer feels he's giving expression to how he's feeling and how we feel. Often times is disconnected from the reality of our Christian experience why this is I think helpful is because life seldom is as we wish it was because that kind of life is future it yet awaits us in heaven. Lori but for now God has ordained difficulty and hardship difficult circumstances, gloomy forecasts suffering and trials to grow our faith to mature us to teach us to trust him and or other reasons. But those are the ones that the Psalm was going to deal with.
So trusting God in hard times. Notice with me as we begin verse 10 Lord God of my salvation. That's the high note of the song right there. That's why we saying how firm a foundation because, listen to me as a believer you have got to have your soul anchored in this truth you must rest in the confidence that you are right with God.
That salvation has come to you all can be going wrong in this temporal life. But if you're right with him. Your same manner.
A woman that will anchor your soul. It will tether your life. When the storms of life come and I'm glad the man that that the psalmist starts there, O Lord God of my salvation. It's a testimony of confident trust, but is already suggested that the trajectory of the Psalm. From that point forward is downward.
Who is this man who is the psalmist, was not David, the author is mentioned there it did in the beginning it is hangman the Azria Esri I he's one of the sons of Cora and according to first Kings 431.
He was one of the five wisest men in his generation.
He was known for his death.
His insight is maturity.
So Psalm 88 is a portrait of a godly man mature man crying out to the Lord in the midst of great suffering and seeing no light at the end of the tunnel.
So Psalm 88 reminds us that life is filled with trouble even to the point of the sprayer even for godly, mature believers. Here is a Psalm to help us in our pursuit of trusting God in hard times. So here's how I'd like to move through the Psalm were going to take an overview of this Psalm makes for observations and then make some applications, so let me give you my for observations number one I want you to see the pain of unanswered prayer. The pain of unanswered prayer in verses one and two, number two, I want you to see the sovereignty of God over suffering. In verses three through nine, number three I want you to see the searching questions. Only a believer wrestles with the searching questions that only a believer wrestles with in verses 10 through 12 in the number four, the determination to pursue God the determination to pursue God. So let's begin with the pain of unanswered prayer Heman hangman is a godly, mature man, but here we find him hopeless and in despair. He describes his prayer as a cry were looking at the pain of unanswered prayer. He has been crying out to God day and night, that is to say unrelentingly without an answer than their baby known that you say what I've known. Like that I don't know it's been night and day you live long enough, you'll you'll you'll go through a season like this.
It's one of the trying times that God appoints and ordains for us in this life. He has been calling out to God for a very long time. Notice what he says in verse 15. I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth. He has been afflicted from his youth. We don't how old he is at this point, but this trial has gone on for month after month, year after year. He's cried out to God, but God has not remove the cause of his suffering times we make the mistake of assuming that mature believers always have their prayers answered.
Have you ever thought that godly men and women. They're not meant to endure suffering yes first season but not ongoing and ongoing with no end to it. But that's not the testimony of Scripture is listen to Job 23 only just read these verses to. You don't need to turn there.
But remember who Job is.
Job is a man in his day, God says there is none like him in all the earth. I'll try so he is he is an outstanding man by God's estimation, godly but that did not insulate him from difficulty Job says in Job 23 eight through 10. I go east but is not there I go West but I can't find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turned on the South but I cannot find him. He's got a compass and he's going in every direction and he cannot find God, but this is what he says when he has tested me, like gold in fire. He will pronounce me innocent Job 2310. I think you know this, but let me remind you of it the same man that God called a man after his own heart. Were talking about David sometimes cried out that he felt abandoned to God. David Paul the apostle listen to what Paul says we so we don't often hear this part of Paul's life.
We venerate him think he's a man above us, beyond us, we could never arise to that level of maturity. Listen to what he said writing to the church in Corinth. He says for we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength so that we despaired even of life, so he said you know that situation we had the thorn in the flesh, and prayed three times to be delivered from it. God said no, my grace is sufficient for you. Sometimes even the most mature even the most godly believers like this man feels as if their cries for help go unheard by our Lord. That's the pain of unanswered prayer notice.
Secondly with me the sovereignty of God over suffering the sovereignty of God over suffering that's in verses three through nine, but I want to draw your attention, particularly to verse beginning in verse six he is giving descriptive language to his heart ache in trouble and he says, verse six, you have laid me in the lowest pet always praying to God and he's directing these words to God.
You have laid me in the lowest pet in darkness in the depths your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you have afflicted me with all your waves you verse eight have put away my acquaintances far from me, you have made me an abomination to them. I am shot up and I cannot get out while I am shot up and I cannot get out my eye wastes away because of affliction, the sovereignty of God over suffering member earlier on I would ask you to be thinking about how this man is describing his experience. He's using language about how he feels.
We've established at the front end at this man is a believer.
He's an Old Testament believer, O Lord God of my salvation, so we ought to be able to identify with this man but how his feelings are out of sync with his experience once you listen to Jerry Bridges who wrote the book trusting God, trusting God, even when life hurts. This is on page 194 and 195 it short. Listen to his his admission and his struggle and what I'm suggesting to you is if this is Jerry Bridges challenge and difficulty in struggle, it's yours and mine. He says for many years in my own pilgrimage of seeking to come to a place of trusting God at all times. I'm still far from the end of that journey. I was a prisoner to my feelings. I mistakenly thought that I could not trust God unless I felt like trusting him which almost never did. In times of adversity. Now I am learning that trusting God is first of all a matter of the will and is not dependent on my feeling I choose to trust God in my feelings eventually follow. That's sound instruction that we need because God is constituted us the way we are. We have feelings we have emotions you you can't you can't run from them. They assault us. So what are you going to do when feelings overwhelm you. Emotions overwhelm you. You going to have to bring them into submission to the objective truth of God's word and what you know to be true about God is my suggestion this man he feels unheard and wonders whether God cares for him, but is also absolutely certain about something. What is that that God is sovereign over his sufferings. He attributes his suffering to the hand of God.
We went through that verses six, seven, eight, and unlike many in our day who feel the need to come to God's rescue and defend God and say well you know I wouldn't. God's not behind dad, God would never have done that that God you just have to stop and think about that if God is not behind your suffering and your pain than who is.
And I don't know what conclusion you come to. If God isn't, but whatever conclusion you came to about who's in charge of your life news brought those in your life.
If it's not God there's not much hope and that is her know. That's why we sang this morning where my God ordains is right, whatever it is as hard as it is as difficult as it is as mysterious as it is taxing as it is, God has ordained it and we get ourselves in trouble by insisting on an explanation why would you know what God is up to. He's brought this into my life with her are biblical answers that question teach you to trust him mature you to make you more like Christ. The things that we often speak of. But if God told you exactly what he was up to. Then you would be on his part. Would you is another reminder that he is God and we are not in his ways are beyond our ways. In the past finding out, and we are to live by faith and not by sight.
I think we've all thought to ourselves, entertain, thought, you know I like to know about what I can know what awaiting me tomorrow or next week or next month and in with that how this is going to get resolved and how this is going to come to fruition. So going down the road and rode as a bend in the road and we want when we want to see around. We went to see what think back through some of the hard times you been through. Would you want to know ahead of time would you want to know a week ahead of time a month ahead of time your head at time. I don't think so because if you knew you wouldn't be required to walk by faith, would you be walking by sight. My son and daughter-in-law spent a week of vacation with her side of the family her mom and dad brother and sister and their children. They had a wonderful time together year ago July up in the mountains up in West Jefferson had a great time together. Robbie been struggling with the self, with complications of diabetes at the end of the week on Friday. The collapse they carried an urgent care. The doctor said well he just recovering from a case of bronchitis. He'll be all right. He got worse Monday or Tuesday. They put them in the hospital and he was in glory on Friday.
Do you think they would've had a good time on vacation. If they do know what the end of the week was going to bring no notes of wisdom of God to keep the mystery of his will, from us.
This is an example that comes to my mind this man never for once considered the possibility that his suffering was outside the limits of God's control.
Let me give you a an acronym to hang onto his were thinking about sovereignty because I think sometimes we get, lost in some of the nuances of sovereignty and how to describe how to explain it.
I like the word lock okay hello CK God limits God orders God controls and God knows what he's doing, he limits he has a purpose and what he's doing and he's going to limited to the degree that it accomplishes is intended purpose.
God limits what comes into our life. Aren't you glad for that today don't have access to your life to ruin your life because if he did, you wouldn't be sitting here. It killed you long time ago. What comes into our life comes to us sifted through our father, San, it's limited God orders he ordains what comes into our life is not by chance God controls every aspect of our lives, and God knows what he's doing.
The Scriptures tell us that if we want to properly understand what is happening around us. We met we need to be reminded of what's happening above us. God is on his throne and he has not abdicated it not for one moment. Again this is from Jerry Bridges. In that same book on page 36 and 37.
The subject is not foreign to those who worship at beacon Baptist Church. We talk about sovereignty. We teach about sovereignty. We sing about sovereignty. We try and rest our lives in sovereignty. We need reminded of a constantly going listener what Jerry Bridges says it seems we will allow God to be anywhere except upon his throne, ruling is universe according to his good pleasure and his sovereign will even godly Christian writers whose books are helpful to many canning writings take got off his throne is gonna make a quote from Andrew Murray wrote a book on prayer who is not one who adheres to the sovereignty of God in all things he says one of the common statements is that God has voluntarily limited himself to the actions of man in order to give the man his freedom. For example, Andrew Murray wrote, quote in creating man with a free will and making him a partner in the rule of the earth. God limited himself. He made himself dependent on what man would do man by his prayer would hold a measure of what God could do in blessing. End of quote really really if God is not sovereign. This is going to be really profound for you. If God is not sovereign. He is not God but is and were glad that he has were thankful it is. I trusted your thankful so we looked at the pain of unanswered prayer. The sovereignty of God over suffering number three look with me at the searching questions. Only a believer wrestles with verses 10 through 12 and there are six of them. This mature godly man says verse 10 will you work wonders for the dead shall did dad arise and praise you. Shall your lovingkindness be declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in the place of destruction, shall your wonders be known in the dark and your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness six questions. Heman this mature godly man asks and asked for these questions get at the heart of why we were created and why God has saved us. Why the we might praise him, that we might glorify him.
Verse 10 that we might declare and testify have his lovingkindness. Verse 11 that we might declare and testify was faithfulness verse 12 that we might declare and testify of his righteousness, his righteousness, that gives us right standing with him. So is asking these questions and here's what he saying how can I live for your glory. Oh God, if I'm because this is where I see this going. How can I live for your glory. If I am did he knows he was put on the earth to glorify God. He knows he's been created to praise the Lord in all of life. But how is he going to do that he's dead. His logic is understandable.
How can God glorify himself among the dead.
Dead men don't prayer don't have prayers answered dead man are delivered from trial dead man can't saying the Lord's praises dead man can't testify to the Lord's righteousness any correction come in your mind as he's giving expression to these. His experience is feelings is a motion about what the choir sign.
It is not death to die.
Death isn't the end of the road. Death doesn't silence the believer do for us will free us. Death will cause us to have a capacity to do the things we've tried to do on this earth and those efforts have been muted because of sinfulness because of the war.
With the world the flesh and the devil testified was righteousness to his lovingkindness was faithfulness will glorify him will praise him in a way we never could on this earth. So those are questions only a believer wrestles with notice with me number for the determination to pursue God the determination to pursue God after he raises all his questions.
He says in verse 13, but to you. I have cried out, oh Lord, and in the morning my prayer comes before you, this man is bewildering as life has gotten for him and is puzzling as it is, he is still seeking after God. He still pursuing.he still praying you given up. He is not a pragmatist. In order pragmatist is wanting to do something because it's going to produce a desired end. In other words, my ongoing fervent praying and seeking after God should do something you should do something should bring relief, it should bring answers and none of that's happening for him. So is not a pragmatist because he has given up.
It was said, why bother what is all this sanctifies an effort done for me is not pragmatist. Yet there are two other "why" questions that he raises he had those six questions in verse 10 and 12, but he is going to raise two more questions in their "why" questions do not. Questions of unbelief, but notice what he says Lord why do you cast off my soul. Why do you hide your face from me, why am I still waiting for help. Why am I still standing here looking for an answer to my prayers. Why do you cast my soul off. Why do you hold your hide your face from me and he does not have answers to that Windows "why" questions block.
He knows that God is behind what's happening in his life and because he knows that he knows there's purpose and what's going on in his life and therefore he can keep pursuing God he can keep but you I've cried out 020 Lord and in the morning my prayer comes before you. The sun does not end very hopeful when we read these last three verses in offer some comments and then we'll get to some application he says your fierce wrath has gone over me your terrors have cut me off. They came around me all day long like water.
They engulfed me altogether. Love Juan and friend you have put far from me and my acquaintances in the darkness.
This translation the last word of the Psalm is darkness while in the Hebrew text. Darkness is the Psalms very last word he sees himself as having been destroyed. Verse 16 and destroyed by God, surrounded and engulfed by God's terror in verse 17 separated from his companions and loved ones whom God is taken from him and left to be all by himself in the darkness. That's what he says. How do we conclude this message. How do we end this message with despair and darkness. This darkness get the final word. No were not gonna let darkness of the final word slip through some lessons.
Lesson number one listen to me.
We need to trust what we know to be true, not our feelings. Trust what you know to be true, not your feelings. I like to think of it this way. Never doubt in the darkness what God has taught you and showed you in the light. What I mean by that.
What brought a different place somewhere going through some to say men I could room. I could've written this is where I met this is work best descriptive of my life.
Probably not many of us, but Psalm here could say that. But if you know clouds are over you and the threatening storm is hanging over you and maybe it may become an mantra now year from now.
So you're sitting there in the sunshine. You're here in the sermon. You may want to tuck this away in the recesses of your mind, because dark days may be coming. Listen to what I said never doubt in the dark.
What God has shown you in the light would God is revealed to you in the light so you're in the light. You gonna need it. Don't forget it.
Another lesson this is a hard one. Don't forget God is not obligated to explain himself. God is not obligated to explain himself. Joe didn't get a warning on the front end of what came to his life. God never broke in when he was struggling and said Job just hang in there. Let me tell you what I've been doing. Let me tell you what to how this is done, all in God never did that. There is no God said Joe get you you pass with flying colors, but to show you what was happening.
No, no sense that he ever got an explanation in this life, the Carson says if we tie our comfort to explanations we made eye comfortless.
If we insist I've got to have an explanation, God, you better tell me why this happened, or that happened, why what you were up to, is not obligated to this focus on our response, our responses to trust him. Job says, though he slay me, yet will I trust him, but should be our response about expectations and life God has not promised us a life of ease. God is not promised. The absence of suffering.
In fact, he told us not to be surprised when it counts right and when it does come to take heart that he is in charge that he is sovereignly superintending and is going to use it for his eternal glory and our everlasting good.
Sometimes we entertain thoughts that suffering is going to hinder me from being the kind of Christian that God originally intended for me to be. He wants me to be joyfully wants me to praise and he wants me to glorify him once when it testified was faithfulness is long-suffering is lovingkindness.
How can I do that with all this going on. Listen suffering. God brings in your life is not to hinder your ability to worship and praise him, glorify him, but to enhance your ability to do that is going to listen to you when life is great you go God's wonderful. I love God testified was faithfulness and is lovingkindness and they go yeah I was sitting in life are your set not be praising him to and that what St. basically said to God about Joe yet he worships you see serves you, but he doesn't first self-interest.
Look what you've done for. Take the stuff away and see what he does and I'm wondering if that isn't still playing out in this universe that God is showing the Angels the demons let me show you about my people, my people don't worship me. I haven't bought their worship.
Look at that man in his suffering.
He still testifying to my goodness he's still speaking to my faithfulness. Yes, there's a lesson here concerning our eternal perspective.
So what do I mean by that.
We can take comfort as a believer that the sufferings of this life or the worst we will ever have to endure the worst that will ever have to endure if we know Christ and if come to him in faith and repentance that are suffering as an end, the trials of this life are the worst, we will ever have to endure but friend you here this morning outside of Christ you don't know him you are alone in your suffering.
You are in a four for worse place than this. Almost his hopelessness was only apparent, it only appeared to be hopeless. Then it was only temporary, but if a man or woman dies outside of Christ. There will be no end to their suffering hell has no light at the end of the tunnel. Jesus said he described hell as everlasting darkness, so my prayer is that if you're here and outside of Christ. You probably know something about hardship and suffering God, the Bible says that the way of the transgressor is hard. Let the hardness it's come in your life. The difficulty the suffering may it bring you to humble repentance and faith in one final application. How can we not, how can we not think about our Lord Jesus when you come to the end of this. I wrestled with a couple of things in this Psalm, and you have to understand it in an old covenant context were new covenant believers in our understanding is for new covenant believer Jesus Christ himself bore the wrath of God in our place and he drank the cup to the bottom. There is no wrath for you and me for in Christ but this man talks about wrath. He says in verse seven. Your wrath lies heavy upon me verse third verse 13, but to you. I have cried out all Lord any when I see that verse 16. Your fierce wrath has gone over me seen a way to minute. Then if I will okay this is in a new old covenant context for but for a new covenant believer. No wrath is is not our experience, but who did bear wrath who did bear wrath in our place.
Jesus did listen to what he endured in your place, and in my place your fierce wrath has gone over me. Your tears have caught me off. They came around me all day long like water. They engulfed me altogether lovely Juan, and friend.
You have put far from me. Jesus died alone on the cross of Calvary. Those who closest to an abandoned him and my acquaintances into darkness human what happened on Calvary's cross on the day when Christ died at high noon. What happened darkness covered the area.
Jesus stood in our place bore God's wrath so that you and I can live in his presence forever and ever and ever. I trust this study and Psalms has been Psalm 88 is been helpful to you and God directed me to it. I thought the Lord says would you rather be in Revelation. I thought Nama go to Psalm 88 father how we thank you for your word for dishonesty for its setting before us mystery in difficulty in suffering in this struggles of the Christian life Lord, we confess that you have given us grace to trust you. And yet at the same time, we confess our struggle to keep on doing that and when we really stop and think about it and analyze it.
It doesn't make a lot of sense were willing to trust you with our never dying soul. And yet we struggle to trust you for these temporal affairs of life Lord, would you help us in our growth in Christ likeness. Would you cause the word of God to dwell richly in us. Would you help us to reason, even as Paul reasoned, you who spare not your own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall you not with him give us all things. We believe in that context all things is everything we need to live a God honoring life in this life and in this world in the midst of suffering and difficulty in mystery and unanswered questions. We thank you for this man that perhaps will meet in glory. Someday who had all these questions and wondered what you were doing and yet you made his experience apart of the sacred Scriptures.
He wondered if you would ever answer his prayer all you answered his prayer you preserved his life. His testimony on the pages of Scripture so that saints.
Many saints since him have been able to learn and to profit from his struggles as we have tried to profit from them today. Seal your word to our hearts and cause it to bear fruit in our lives that we might be in a better place to honor you, praise you, glorify you and testify your lovingkindness, your faithfulness of your righteousness. We pray in Jesus name, amen