How do you tend to cope with emergencies and bad news and illnesses and with need ?
We have lately been bombarded by WhatsApp messages commanding us to pray: Accompanied by a specific prayer and a “command” that you should pass it on to seven other people to do the same. Sometimes this does encourage us pray, but sometimes it evokes the opposite attitude: You get annoyed and feel like swearing.
Psalm 86 is about someone in distress and in need of help. We don’t really know what kind of need he had. However, we do notice that he literally calls upon God for help. In verse 1- 4, he recognises God as the answer to the call to lift up his soul. In search of God, he gets the confidence that comes from having been heard and found. He realizes that he needs God: His teaching and help.
Therefore, he is not able to hold up his piety to God, as if it were his own merit. His confidence is based completely on the grace and compassionate goodness of God. Once he focuses on the majesty of God, he becomes fully conscious of his own inadequacy. The result is that he draws nearer to God, asking God to teach him the way which he cannot find by himself; To give him strength to live faithfully and trustfully, and make his distracted heart steadfast in the fear of the God. This is the one thing needed and is the beginning and end of all practical wisdom. It is God ‘s grace and faithfulness he trusts and which he had been privileged to experience. Prayer is where he asks for strength and Gods favour. His attitude of mind also testifies to the strength of self-conquest, which is granted to one who has entrusted himself wholly to the guidance of God. Without bitterness, he leaves whatever may happen in future in the hands of God and is content.
In prayer, he finds a way through his needs. The purpose of his prayer is to focus and concentrate and identify his need. He puts his need before God in assurance that he shall be heard and helped. He confesses that God always acts in loyalty and truth, that He does not keep chaos, but acts in truth.
Which brings us to our own needs and problems. Right now, in the time of Pentecost, we become aware of the presence of God in our lives through the Holy Spirit. We are not alone, never alone in our illness or distress. So, let us cry out: Lord have mercy and in faith receive and acknowledge the grace and love in which God stands by us and helps us.
Question to reflect on: How often do I try and handle my problems/distress and illness on my terms, before turning to God and asking for help. Do I really trust God with everything in my life?
Written by: Rev Kathleen Smith: Minister of Nederduitsch Hervormde Church, Cape Town. Trained Churches, Channels of Hope facilitator.