October 13: Psalm 102

Gerald Bray
Vv. 16-17: The Lord builds up Zion; he appears in his glory; he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer.

The Christian life is a struggle. The Bible calls it a spiritual warfare, and the Apostle Paul warns us to put on the whole armor of God, so that we will be able to fight the good fight and come out victorious in the end. God has promised us that he will never desert us, and even in the thick of battle, we have the assurance that he will never let us go and never let us down.

This is an important promise for us to bear in mind as we face the turmoil of our daily lives, not least because the stronger we are as Christians the more likely it is that we shall have to face hardships that we would never have thought possible. No army general would put raw recruits into the front line, and so we should not be surprised to find that God keeps his most seasoned soldiers for the toughest assignments. We need to remember this, because it is all too easy to wonder why it is that we can serve God for many years only to find that we are faced with trials and temptations that we thought we had overcome long ago. The psalmist was not a new believer trying to deal with the sins of his past life. He had been a faithful follower of God for many years and could honestly say that he had done nothing to deserve the troubles he was suffering from. 

But to think like that is to miss the point. Just as a battle-hardened soldier responds to a new challenge, so experienced believers must be prepared to do the same. There will be times when God seems far away and out of reach, but very likely he is busy at work in parts of our lives of which we have no conscious awareness. We cannot see him because we do not know ourselves well enough to be able to spot his presence and so we think that he has deserted us. There will be other times when we start to doubt ourselves. Especially as we grow older, we look back on the years that have flown by and wonder what we have accomplished. Was it all worth it? What will we leave behind when we go? Will we have a comfortable and quiet death, or will we be put through the agony of suffering for years on end, with no hope of a cure?

None of us can say what God has in store for us, or what he will expect of us before he comes to take us home. We may have good times, but we may also have hard times and it is not up to us to choose. Whatever happens, our strength is always in the Lord, and it is in him that we must take refuge when we are overwhelmed by the cares of life. He hears our prayers, and we are safe in his everlasting arms, whatever trials we may be called to face. It is in this hope that we go forward and with that confidence that we begin each new day on the way to eternal life in heaven.