Of all 150 Psalms, Psalm 34 is my absolute favorite. It is all about our Lord’s faithfulness to deliver his children from great trials and crises. David declares, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears…The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them…The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles… Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:4,7,17,19).
Note David’s claim in this Psalm: “I sought the Lord…this poor man cried….” (34:4, 6). When did David do this crying out? It had to have happened when he was feigning madness in Gath and yet he couldn’t have prayed audibly in the Philistines’ presence. This brings us to a great truth regarding God’s deliverance. Sometimes the loudest cry is made without an audible voice.
I know what this kind of “inner crying out” is like. Many of the loudest prayers of my life—my most important, heart-wrenching, deepest cries—have been made in total silence.
At times I’ve been so benumbed by circumstances that I couldn’t speak, overwhelmed by situations so beyond me that I couldn’t think clearly enough to pray. On occasion, I’ve sat alone in my study so baffled that I was unable to say anything to the Lord at all, but the whole time my heart was crying out: “God, help me! I don’t know how to pray just now, so hear the cry of my heart. Deliver me from this situation.”
Have you ever been there? Have you ever thought, “I don’t know what this is all about. I’m so overwhelmed by my circumstance, so flooded by deep pain, I can’t explain it. Lord, I don’t even know what to say to you. What is going on?”
I believe this is exactly what David went through when he was captured by the Philistines. When he wrote Psalm 34, he was making an admission: “I was in a situation so overwhelming that I played the part of a fool. Yet, inside I wondered, ‘What is going on with me? How has this happened? Lord, help!’”
And so it seems David was saying, “This poor man cried out from within, not knowing what or how to pray. And the Lord heard me and delivered me.” It was a deep cry from the heart, and the Lord is faithful to hear every whimper, no matter how faint.
Often people contact our ministry and say, “I have no one to talk to, no one to share my burden with, no one who has time to hear my cry. I need someone I can pour my heart out to.”
King David was constantly surrounded by people. He was married and had many companions at his side. Yet we hear the same cry from him: “To whom shall I go?” It is in our nature to want another human being, with a face, eyes and ears, to listen to us and advise us.
When Job became overwhelmed by his trials, he cried out with grief, “Oh that one would hear me!” (Job 31:35). He uttered this cry while sitting before his so-called friends. Those friends had no sympathy for his troubles; in fact, they were messengers of despair.
Job turned only to the Lord: “Surely even now my witness is in heaven, and my evidence is on high…My eyes pour out tears to God” (Job 16:19-20).
David urged God’s people to do likewise: “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8).
Eventually, suffering comes to us all, and right now multitudes of saints are chained down by afflictions. Their circumstances have turned their joy into feelings of helplessness and uselessness. Many are asking in their pain, “Why is this happening to me? Is God mad at me? What did I do wrong? Why doesn’t he answer my prayers?”
I believe in my heart that this word is an invitation to you from the Holy Spirit to find a private place where you can frequently pour out your soul to the Lord. David “poured out his complaint,” and so can you. You can speak to Jesus about everything—your problems, your present trial, your finances, your health—and tell him how overwhelmed you are, even how discouraged you are. He will hear you with love and sympathy, and he will not despise your cry.
God answered David. He answered Job. And for centuries he has answered the heart cry of everyone who has trusted his promises. He has promised to hear you and guide you. He has pledged by oath to be your strength, so you can go to him and come out renewed.
When Scripture says the Holy Spirit “abides” in us, it means God’s Spirit comes in and possesses our bodies, making it his temple. And because the Holy Spirit knows the mind and voice of the Father, he speaks God’s thoughts to us: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit is the voice of God in and to us!
If you have the Holy Spirit abiding in you, he will instruct you personally. Please know he doesn’t speak only to pastors, prophets and teachers, but to all followers of Jesus. This is evident all through the New Testament, as the Holy Spirit led his people, constantly saying to them, “Go here, go there…enter this town…anoint that person…” The early believers were led everywhere and in everything by the Holy Ghost!
And the Spirit never speaks a single word contrary to the Scriptures. Instead, he uses the Scriptures to speak clearly to us. He never gives us a “new revelation” apart from God’s Word. He opens up to us his revealed Word, to lead, guide and comfort us, and to show us things to come.
I am convinced God speaks only to those who, like Moses, “come and stand by him.” This means we have to spend quality time with the Lord daily—waiting on him to open our heart fully to hear his voice, not being rushed in his presence, believing he loves to speak to us. He won’t keep anything from us—and he’ll never allow us to be deceived or left in confusion. Even in the most difficult times, we’ll enjoy a time of great rejoicing—because he will reveal himself to us as never before.
“Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way” (Matthew 15:32).
I believe Christ was making a statement to his disciples here. He was saying, “I’m going to do more for the people than heal them. I’ll make sure they have enough bread to eat. I’m concerned about everything that affects their lives. You have to see that I am more than just power. I am also compassion. If you see me only as a healer, a miracle worker, you will fear me. But if you also see me as compassionate, you’re going to love and trust me.”
I am writing this message for all who are on the brink of exhaustion, about to faint, overwhelmed by your present situation. You’ve been a faithful servant, feeding others, confident that God can do the impossible for his people. Yet you have some lingering doubts about his willingness to intervene in your struggle.
I wonder how many readers of this message have spoken words of faith and hope to others who are facing distressing, seemingly hopeless situations? You have urged them, “Hold on! The Lord is able. He is a miracle-working God, and his promises are true. So, don’t lose hope, because he’s going to answer your cry.”
“Do you really believe in miracles?” That’s the question the Holy Spirit asked of me. My answer was, “Yes, of course, Lord. I believe in every miracle I’ve read about in Scripture.” Yet this answer is not good enough. The Lord’s question to each one of us really is, “Do you believe I can work a miracle for you?” And not just one miracle, but a miracle for every crisis, every situation we face. We need more than Old Testament miracles, New Testament miracles, and by-gone miracles in history. We need up-to-date, personal miracles that are designed just for us and our situation.
Think of the one difficulty you’re facing right now, your greatest need, your most troubling problem. You’ve prayed about it for so long. Do you really believe the Lord can and will work it out, in ways you can’t conceive? That kind of faith commands the heart to quit fretting or asking questions. It tells you to rest in the Father’s care, trusting him to do it all in his way and time.
If we were to become more of ‘who we really are,’ we would become more wicked and full of contention with one another. If it were not for the common grace of God, our world would fall apart.
We often find relational poverty even in the church, not just out in the world. We find in our own lives a severe selfishness that’s driving our ambitions and direction in life. We find a prayerlessness and lack of worship. We cannot accept the full victory and life of the gospel news unless we understand how fallen our nature is and how far from God we are.
In Philippians, Paul gives us good news that counters this relational poverty and selfishness in our lives. Embedded in this text is a world-altering promise.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:4-8, ESV).
The Lord is at hand. The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. Without the knowledge of our own deep sinfulness and then this promise, we cannot know the joy of the good news of Christ coming, living a perfect life, his death, his resurrection and the imputing of his righteousness to us.