The Bible records the response that people have when confronted with the presence of God in His holiness and might - they tremble in fear, usually sink to the ground prostrate, and seem to wish they were dead (Daniel actually almost died). But the Bible also records the tender and reassuring words of angels and the Lord Jesus to those lying in the dust before them: "do not fear." We will all face times of fear, whether it be times of acute awareness of our own sin before a holy God or times of struggle through life's difficulties. In the midst of these "waves of trouble," we need the anchor of that powerful voice that was able to calm the seas with a word, the voice of our loving Lord reminding us to take heart and do not fear, for He is near. We need to remember who God is - the sovereign ruler of the universe who is also our loving father. He has a wise and loving plan in every difficulty, and reminds us to trust and hold onto Him even when we can't understand the reason for our suffering. As you listen or sing, may you be encouraged with the beautiful truth that if you have put your trust in Jesus, you need not fear anything or anyone, for God has you securely in His hand.
Posts Tagged ‘Prayer in Affliction and Temptation’
This is a song about how the gospel rescues us from various kinds of struggle - doubt, guilt and shame, self-righteous striving, and pride. It is a song inspired by a couple of lines from Albert Midlane's obscure hymn "Sinner, Where Is Room for Doubting?" The gospel of Jesus' life and death as our only means of rescue from the penalty, power, and presence of sin is not just a message for non-Christians. The Christian life is characterized by struggle, or to use another biblical term, warfare. Though we are positionally righteous in Christ, we work out that righteousness in a glorious mystery as described in Philippians 2:12-12: "work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." The work of sanctification can be described as applying the gospel's transforming power to specific areas in our hearts where sin remains. That's what this song is all about - filling our minds and hearts so full of the gospel that there is no more room for our spiritual idolatry. The more captivated we become in Jesus - all He is for us and all He has done for us - the less we will run to idols for meaning, significance, and pleasure.
This song is a cry for help in the struggle that every Christian faces against their remaining sin. What should we do when sin seems to "take such hold" on us that we feel powerless against it? The song reminds us that there is only one place to look - to Jesus, the source of forgiveness and grace. Remembering the sufferings of Jesus, as a result of our sin (the very sin we are struggling with) will remind us of the grief, anguish, sadness, and guilt that our sins deserve. But the very suffering that reminds us of our sin's penalty also reminds us of the incredible, gracious, love that God has demonstrated for us at the cross. Because Jesus suffered in our place, we need not face eternal suffering for our sin. Because Jesus rose again and conquered sin and death, we can experience His resurrection power in putting our remaining sin to death. We do this not by our own effort, but by starting at the foot of the cross where we are reminded of God's grace and the source of power in the struggle against sin.
This is an original song based loosely on a hymn titled "O Zion, Afflicted" by John Roberts (1822-1877). It is a reminder of God's covenant love and faithful promise to work all things for good for His children (Romans 8:28), a truth we desperately need in times of darkness and peril. Whether you are suffering under great trial or are in a season of relative comfort, this song will remind you of God's love and care for you. Charles Spurgeon (1834-92) quotes from the original hymn in this excerpt from "Beside Still Waters," which serves as a great introduction to the new song as well:
When your faith endures many conflicts, and your spirit sinks low, do not condemn yourself. There is a reason for your season of heaviness. Great soldiers are not made without war. Skillful sailors are not trained on the shore. It appears that if you are to become a great believer, you will be greatly tested. If you are to be a great help to others, you must pass through their trials. If you are to be instructed in the things of the kingdom, you must learn from experience. The uncut diamond has little brilliance, and the unthreshed corn feeds no one, and the untried believer is of little use or beauty. There are GREAT BENEFITS to come from your trials and depression. The one who is much plowed and often harrowed will thank God if the result is a larger harvest to the praise and glory of God by Jesus Christ. If your face is now covered with sorrow, the time will come when you will bless God for that sorrow. The day will come when you will see great gain from your losses, your crosses, your troubles and your affliction. From your affliction this glory shall spring, and the deeper your sorrow the louder you'll sing. - Charles Spurgeon, "Beside Still Waters"
This classic hymn by Charles Wesley describes the intimacy that Jesus offers us in our relationship with Him. Christianity is not simply a religion, that is, is not a set of moral or ethical codes to follow. Nor is it simply a set of beliefs that one must adopt. At its core, it is about having a personal and intimate relationship with a savior, namely Jesus. It is turning away from all of the things we hold most dear, whether they are sinful behaviors or our most treasured possessions, and embracing to Jesus as our true and ultimate treasure. Wesley found Jesus to be his great "lover," his shelter in the time of difficulty, his support and comfort, his healer, encourager, and his only source of grace. As we sing such hymns to Jesus, may we grow to love Him more and more with our hearts, minds, souls, and strength.