Reading through the Bible together

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

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From the very first words, there is a note of desperate urgency about Psalm 55: “Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me.” David speaks out of emotional turmoil: “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught (“panic-stricken” in the NEB).  My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.”

Here we have a case of extreme stress, of great anxiety. The cause of David’s stress is not just the usual threats from familiar enemies. Far worse: “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng to the house of God.”  Does this sound familiar to you? The level of anxiety you may feel depends on how threatening you perceive the situation to be, how significant your relationship with this person is, and remembering how you had to deal with similar situations and threats like this before.

One response—often the first—is to want to run away and hide. David felt that way: if only he could fly away like a dove to some corner of the desert where he would shelter himself from it all! Some people habitually turn away from any conflict. They are paralysed by it and hope it goes away, but it usually does not, and we just have to face it another day.

David, rather than running from it, handed it over to God. “But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me.” Reflecting on David’s experience, the worshipping congregation were encouraged to sing: “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” Here’s an invitation and a promise that you can hold on to. When your day of anxiety comes, you don’t have to carry the problem alone. As Peter later wrote: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

 

Garth Bainbridge
Ministerial Director
Greater Sydney Conference
Australia