Praising when times are tough

Psalm 124:1 – 8 (NIV)

If the LORD had not been on our side– let Israel say–  if the LORD had not been on our side when men attacked us,  when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive;  the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us,  the raging waters would have swept us away.  Praise be to the LORD, who has not let us be torn by their teeth.  We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped.  Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

As I travel to Israel and consider the current geopolitical climate of the region, I find myself drawn to the Psalmist’s words above.  Israel has often been on the defense against various peoples bent on Israel’s destruction.  Yet Israel has survived and in many cases, thrived.  No one likes trouble.  No one likes to be attacked.  However, when attacks come, it is a blessing to know where your help comes from.

I like how Charles Spurgeon render’s part of the translation, “Had it not been Jehovah! He was for us, oh let Israel say! Had it not been Jehovah! He who was for us when men rose against us” (Source).  Even in times of trouble, the one who has put his or her faith in the Almighty God has something to cheer about.  If it wasn’t for God, I don’t know where I’d be!

As I read the language of the Psalm, I see an important point.  The Psalmist did not say that God delivered them from the trouble.  He carried them through the trouble, “when men attacked,” “when their anger flared,” when the flood and torrent came.  The psalmist recognized that God oversaw the outcome so that Israel “escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare.” 

Why do I tend to forget God’s protection in my life?  Why do I often retreat into self-pity and doubt?  I need to remember “where my help comes from” (Psalm 121).  I need to replace my “why me” with worship.  That’s when my perspective changes.  The next time you are up against a struggle consider these words from the song, Praise the Lord by The Imperials.  Perhaps a more modern rendition of the sentiments of Psalm 124:

When you’re up against a struggle
That shatters all your dreams
And your hope’s been cruelly crushed
By Satan’s manifested scheme
And you feel the urge within you
To submit to earthly fears
Don’t let the faith your standing in
Seem to disappear

Praise the Lord
He can work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord
For our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord
For the chains that seem to bind you
Serve only to remind you
That they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him

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