I’ve never had to worry about anyone plotting my death. The closest I’ve ever come is feeling like I don’t fit in or folks throwing rude words at my feet or turning away from me in a time of need. I've felt alone and forgotten and hurt and betrayed. But worried for my very life, that my next breath may be my last?
No, death is not something I find myself praying about very much.
In the Psalms, though, we see that that was a real concern for quite a few of the writers—they really did have to worry about losing their lives.
I was reading Psalm 71, where the writer is facing this very danger: “…my enemies are whispering against me. They are plotting together to kill me.” (verse 10)
He prays and begs and pleads for God to rescue him from the ruin that otherwise awaits. “O God, don’t stay away. My God, please hurry to help me.” (verse 12)
And then he says something that catches my eye, that captures my heart: “But I will keep on hoping for you to help me; I will praise you more and more. I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, for I am overwhelmed by how much you have done for me. I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign LORD. I will tell everyone that you alone are just and good.” (verses 14-16)
While he waits for the Lord to act and rescue him, he contends that he will not only continue praising Him, but he will praise Him even more than he ever has. His worship will grow even in these times of suffering.
When the hard times come, it’s not that my prayers and praise ever stop. Like Job, I’m well aware that, “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” (Job 2:10)
I’m ready to accept what God is allowing and even praise him in the midst, but am I willing to praise him more than I ever have before?
That is faith.
“What is faith?” Hebrews 11 asks. “It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.”
That definition becomes apparent—becomes lived out—later in the same psalm when the writer looks with expectation to the future, one that he trusts will not end in ruin like his enemies plan, but with God’s rescue: “You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.” (verses 20-21)
His praises comes from great expectations of what God is going to do. He looks on his own calamities not with pity but with purpose, knowing that they aren’t for naught, that God will redeem them.
Though his circumstances may say otherwise—that he is alone and suffering and without rescue, the psalmist chooses to rest on God’s promises and character and trust that things will end up very differently for him.
That is faith.
Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."
Feel free to learn more at her blog, Life Blessons.