First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday ~ May 10, 2020)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Looking Up When Feeling Down!”
When you feel down, look up. This short phrase captures the essence and the spirit of Psalm 43. You and I know that challenges and difficulties are part of being human. American Pastor and Bible scholar, Warren Wiersbe , wrote a little book many years ago entitled, Bumps Are What You Climb On: Encouragement for Difficult Days. The title comes from a story of a young boy taking his little sister on a hike up a hill. The little girl complains and says, “Why, this isn’t a path at all – it’s all rocky and bumpy.” Her brother replied, “Sure, the bumps are what you climb on.” Human existence is accompanied by the basic fact that there will be problems, there will be bumps in life.
Psalm 43 addresses this topic. It’s a great Psalm. Most Bible scholars suggest that King David is the author of this Psalm. He wrote it when he was fleeing from the revolt of his son Absalom. It would seem that the author of this Psalm is going through a time of stress, personal attack and inner turmoil. His life has brought him face to face with circumstances that are out of his control and they have brought pain and confusion to his heart.
We have all faced times in our lives when we were embroiled in turmoil, pain and heartache. In fact, our world is living this very disturbing reality right now. My friends, let me tell you something very important. Those are the times of life that define us as followers of Jesus and confirm or deny our testimony concerning our faith in and love for Jesus Christ.
As we look at Psalm 43, it becomes quickly evident that the Psalmist is a broken person; yet, he clings to his faith in God as a drowning person clings to a life preserver. Yes, we can see the depth of the author’s pain, but we can also see the height of his faith in the Lord.
This morning, I want us to see both the depth of the Psalmist pain and the height of his faith in the Lord. First, we will be looking at the Psalmist cry for help; and second, we will be looking at the believer’s confidence.
First: A Cry for Deliverance
From the outset of Psalm 43, we are introduced to a person who is in touch with the Lord of Heaven. In verses 1 and 2, the Psalmist says, “Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; from those who are deceitful and unjust deliver me! For you are the God in whom I take refuge.”
If there was ever a reason to rejoice in difficulty and tribulations, it lies in the fact that we have access to God. And in Him, we find all the help we need to weather the storms of this life. “Deliver me,” the Psalmist cried out. The Psalmist feels trapped by his circumstances, he is oppressed by his enemies, and he cries out to God for deliverance. Sometimes I feel we are trapped right now, but I am thankful that our God is the Great Liberator!
The Psalmist calls on God because his circumstances are beyond his control. God alone has the power to fix that which we cannot fix. Friends, the sooner we learn this lesson, the better off we will be. The best thing we can do is learn to bring our needs to the Lord, stand in His strength and watch Him work it out for His purpose in our lives.
Second: The Believer’s Confidence
In the second half of the Psalm, verses 3-5, we see the believer’s confidence in God and that God will make a way where it seems no way. “O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling,” the Psalmist says in verse 3.
As you notice here, the Psalmist desires to be led by God’s truth and light. “O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me.” In his troubles, in his dark hour, the Psalmist desires to hear the voice of God and to get direction from it. Friends, it is in our darkest hour that God’s light shines around us. It is the truth of God’s Word that will lead us in Christ’s triumphal procession. Friends, God’s Word holds the solutions to all of life’s riddles and answers to life’s big questions. “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light on my path,” says Psalm 119:89.
In verse 5, the Psalmist expresses his confidence in the Lord and shows a profound certainty. Even though he is still in the dark valley, the Psalmist knows that he will soon come out of that valley in victory. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.” We rest in the confidence that the valleys will soon be behind us forever. There is help at His feet.
Friends, no matter how “downcast” how “disturbed”, or how “discouraged” my soul ever gets – and it does, for all of us – I know there is more to the story, and that makes all the difference.
Horatio G. Spafford is a name with which you are probably not familiar. Mr. Spafford was a successful Chicago lawyer who lost most of his wealth in the Great Chicago Fire of 1873. He sent his wife and four daughters on a trip to France, but on their way, their ship was struck by another, and sank. Of 225 passengers, only 87 of them survived. Mrs. Spafford was among the survivors, but the four daughters perished. As soon as she reached land, she telegraphed to her husband: “Saved alone. Children lost. What shall I do?”
With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna. As he sailed across the area were their ship went down and they drowned, he penned those now famous words:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrow like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” Friends, let’s move beyond despair. Put your hope in God. To God alone is the glory now and forever more. Amen!
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