Home > Books on Spiritual Formation, Scripture Reflections > Strength promised to meet trouble

Strength promised to meet trouble


Whenever multiple strands of reading and thoughts come together, I try to pay attention.  It started last night with a discussion with a doctor friend of ours about how to pray for those who are sick since we had all recently finished reading Yancey’s book, Prayer. Then, continued this morning in Psalm 31:34, “So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord.” Derek Kidner suggests another translation could be “he shall strengthen your heart” and then makes the following comment about verse 34, “it does not promise an end to trouble: rather the strength to meet it.”

Eugene Peterson  talks about how fear is the most common response to the resurrection in his book, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places.  He says we’re afraid

  • “when we’re suddenly taken off guard and don’t know what to do”
  • “when our presuppositions and assumpitions no longer account for what we are up against and we don’t know what will happen to us”
  • “when reality without warning is shown to be either more or other than we thought it was” 121

Then, Peterson talks about the command of fear not.

The fear not doesn’t result in the absence of fear, but rather its transformation into fear of the Lord. But we still don’t know what is going on.  We still are not in control.  We still are deep in mystery. 121

Kidner then refers the reader to Jesus’ prayer in in the Garden on the night before his death in Luke 22:40-44.  He had commanded the disciples to pray “that you will not give in to temptation,” before going off to pray to the Father, “If you are willing, please take away this cup of suffering from me. Yet, I want your will to be done not mine. ”  What happened next?  “The angel came and strengthened him”  in verse 43.

A challenge for me as I think about sickness, suffering and struggles and how to pray for those in the throes of either!

Back to our conversation last night.  Our doctor friend had just listened to a mini-sermon by Paul Washer on “Useless Prayer Meetings.” Just listened to it and it may be worth a listen although he speaks more directly than some are used to hearing.  He says in too many prayer meetings, “We are praying to keep saints out of heaven instead of praying to get sinners into heaven.”

May the Lord teach us how to pray and how to respond to the trials he brings into our lives and into the lives of others.

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  1. Mike Owens
    August 11, 2009 at 1:04 am

    Random thoughts on Strength and Trouble:

    The intersection of God’s sovereignty and love, our fallen sinful world, and our concerns and prayers in difficult times was (and occassionally still is) a problem for me for many years.
    How does an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful Creator allow there to be such pain and suffering in this world. Quite simply and paradoxically, I believe, it is because He loves us.

    “The Will of God” by Leslie Weatherhead had a major impact on my thinking about all of this. He discusses God’s intentional, circumstantial and ultimate Will in times of human suffering. God does not cause pain and suffering (our free will and Sin do), but He uses it to fulfill His ultimate will. Weatherhead does not address the issue of how prayer affects God’s circumstantial will. In my opinion, Yancey’s book on prayer does not adequately address this issue either (I read it primarily looking for an answer to that question).

    We should remember Romans 8:28, and know that God is working for the believer’s good in all circumstances, even if we often don’t see or understand it at the time. To paraphrase another author, life is like a tapestry. What we see in life is the back of a tapestry with all its knots and strings. We question God about why we have to have so many knots and strings in our life. What God sees is the front of the tapestry where all of the knots and strings are woven together into a beautiful picture. We can’t see that now, but later we will. God has a perfect plan for our lives – even if we don’t understand how and why certain things happen.

    Therefore, during times of pain and suffering we should pray for ourselves and others to be strenghtened, for a deeper and more abiding faith, for understanding when possible, and ultimately that God’s will be accepted and even embraced.

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