O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure! For Your arrows pierce me deeply, and Your hand presses me down. There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger, nor any health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are full of inflammation, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart pants, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me. My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, and my relatives stand afar off. Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, and plan deception all the day long. But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; and I am like a mute who does not open his mouth. Thus I am like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth is no response. For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God. For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me, lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.” For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin. But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong; and those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied. Those also who render evil for good, they are my adversaries, because I follow what is good. Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation! (Psalm 38) A Psalm of David. To Bring to Remembrance.
Hope In Difficult Times
The psalms are refreshing to read because they describe so many things in our lives. There are psalms of praise in the wonderful blessings of life and creation. Often the psalmists declare the grandeur of the Lord and how remarkable the grace of God is given to man. There are a few psalms that are a little difficult to read because they share a message of justice. One of the things about the book of Psalms is how it relates to everyday living. In our study for today it seems David is experiencing some very difficult challenges in life regarding his health. We may not realize how often in the Bible the Lord understands our suffering on a personal level and how He tells us to keep the faith in the midst of this kind of toil.
Temptation comes in many forms. Illness and disease is just a potent form of temptation as any other challenge to our faith. The book of Job is a test of faith for a man who lost so much struggling to keep his head above water. David faces a great challenge to his faith but with a sincere hope that God will not fail him. Read the text again and see how vivid David describes his suffering. Then he writes, “Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You.” Remarkable. He does not look at disease as a malady of the flesh without knowing that God loves him and cares for him. The Lord has not left him alone. The ravage of his illness does not diminish his trust in His Creator.
Hope is lost sometimes in the face of disease. One of the cruelest side effects of what the body can do is to destroy faith in God. David understood that life was fleeting and the body flesh. He was not enjoying what was happening to him but he understood that it would all go away one day. It was clear that his faith remained true to the Lord because that was the only hope there was. There were times when his foot slipped and his sorrow got the best of him. The Lord understands that we are flesh. David implores the Lord to stay close to him and help him.
I know that in writing these words there is a disconnect to the real feeling of suffering in the flesh. It is easy to speak of being strong under the weight of a diseased body while not suffering the same. There is a humble spirit of thanksgiving offered to those who endure daily challenges. I pray that when I face the same I will have the faith of David. There are many I know personally that I admire for their courage to face illness with a view of faith that I am not sure I could have. Thank you David for your example and thank those of you who stand for the Lord in bodies wracked with pain and suffering. The day is coming when our God will wipe away all of our tears. Live for that day.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (The apostle Paul)