When everything around them seems to be falling apart, what can a believer do?
Strength in Storms
The trees we have in Kansas are typically bent to the North because during the summer, the strong southwesterly winds are persistently pressing them that way. After time, even the largest of trees begin to grow towards the North, but this wind doesn’t harm them, and in fact, it helps them. When they’re growing, the stiff and consistent wind continually strengthens the parts of the tree that are more vulnerable, and by doing so, the tree grows proportionally stronger in those areas. The wind has caused the tree to grow stronger, so during the severest windstorms, it’s less likely to lose large branches…but the winds also manage to strengthen the root system. The dry and windy summers of Kansas cause the tree’s root system to grow rapidly, and as it grows rapidly, it sends down giant taproots, sometimes 10 to 20 feet deep or more, and these act as anchors for the tree during drought and wind. The tree ends up with a root system that’s elaborate enough to hold the entire tree firm, even in the fiercest of winds. I believe there’s a lesson for us in that. You know what they say; what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Meanwhile, in a biosphere, the trees were dying, even though they had plenty of sunshine and abundant moisture. The problem? There was no wind at all. This meant, the trees didn’t have to put up any resistance at all, and over time, that made them more vulnerable to disease, and as they weakened over time, they began to die. In fact, the trees and the savannah suffered from a lack of developing “stress wood,” something that’s naturally created in response to winds. It was only when they discovered the trees and savannah needed the wind so they could build up resistance. Why? It’s because they’d never built up any resistance at all to outside environmental forces. Another lesson; the strong winds that hit us, benefit us, and there is strength of faith that’s developed after being delivered from the storm, but the greatest growth is while we’re in the storm…just like the trees!
In this psalm from David, he writes, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb” (Psalm 37:1-2), and what I believe David is saying is, when you look at all the evil in the world and all those who do evil, don’t envy them, because they’re not getting away with anything. The day is coming (Rom 12:17-19; Rev 20:12-15) when God will judge them, so it’s not our job. That is God’s prerogative. Rather than fret, or worry, here’s what we are to do: “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:3-4). Those desires might not come immediately, which is why he writes, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act” (Psalm 37:5), and “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7a). If we can walk in this world with an eye to the kingdom, knowing full well that God’s got this, we can wait, trust, and rest in him, and that means, “no fretting!”
The psalmist writes, in what to me is wisdom literature, “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24). If you delight in something, that means you have a strong feeling of joy or happiness, and there is great pleasure and satisfaction in it. Whatever you can think of that you delight in, whether it be an ice cream sundae, a new car, a birth of a child (big one), that is delight, so delighting in God is good since it can establish your steps. If you are that delighted in God, as you would be with your child or spouse, you’d spend lots of time and show them lots of attention. The person that finds great delight in God might fall, but they won’t end up on their face permanently (cast headlong). That’s because “the Lord upholds his hand” for those who delight in Him. And for those who’ve trusted in Christ, they find their greatest delight in Him because of what He’s done.
David must have felt a sense of abandonment at times because he was often running for his life, trying to escape King Saul, so when David wrote, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread” (Psalm 37:25). David wrote from experience, and he knew what it felt like to be forsaken…by Saul, and by his own sons, so when David says, he’s never “seen the righteous forsaken,” the Hebrew word for forsaken is, “`azab” and means, “to depart from, leave behind, leave, let alone, abandon,” or “neglect.” David says he’s never seen God do that, and neither have I, so we can rest in the fact that “the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever” (Psalm 37:28). Not only does the Lord preserve them (and you if you’ve trusted in Christ), “The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him” (Psalm 37:40).
There is so much in this psalm that it could fill volumes and volumes of books, but if we reduce it, it would be these things: If you delight yourself in the LORD, he will give you the desires of your heart, but you must commit your ways to Him; you must trust in Him at all times; you must wait on His timing; and you must refrain from anger because the anger of man rarely does good. I think the key words in this psalm are the most important ones: We must trust, wait, rest, delight, and commit, and this will give us patience, peace, stability, and the knowledge that the Lord will deliver His own and bring swift judgment upon those who refuse to repent and trust in Christ. Vengeance is God’s, and not ours.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.