Today's lesson from the Psalms is taken from Ps. 130:

"From the depths of despair, O Lord..." (vs. 1a NLT)

Do you feel as if you are in the depths of despair? Maybe the promised--and counted upon--raise didn't come through. Or perhaps you have just learned that your son and his family are moving 16000 km away. Or possibly, the report from your last blood work isn't quite what you had hoped for, or your daughter's fiancé and the love of her life just broke off their engagement. The river you live beside has perchance overflown its banks and your house now stands in 1 metre of water. Or maybe you have done something that is very wrong, and now you have gotten yourself into a mess there is truly no way out of...

The list could go on, but you get the picture. You've been there. We've all been there. Maybe that's where you are right now. What do you do?

Ps. 130 gives us the answer:

"From the depths of despair,
   O Lord, I call for your help.
Hear my cry, O Lord.
   Pay attention to my prayer."
(Vs 1-2 NLT)

Calling out to God in our trouble isn't a new theme in the Psalms (See Ps. 43:5, 71:5-6, 10:17, 18:2, 61:2-3, 62:2, etc.). Ps. 130 goes on, however, to tell us why  we can count on God, why we can give Him our troubles:

"Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
   who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
   that we might learn to fear you."
(vs. 3-4 NLT)

The reason we can count on God in times of distress is that He has already made a way for Salvation. As a result of Jesus' gift on the cross, there is no record of sin ("And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins." Heb. 8:12 NLT), for His forgiveness abounds ("Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon." Is. 55:7 NIV).

God's part is the forgiveness and removal of our sins that separates us from Him (See Is. 59:2); but Ps. 130 also reminds us that we have a role to play as well:

"I am counting on the Lord;
   yes, I am counting on him.
   I have put my hope in his word."
(vs. 5 NLT)

In addition to coming to the Lord in our times of trouble, we must also count on Him and put our hope iin His Word! In other words, we need to believe in the many promises of His Word that He will come through for us (See Ex. 14:4, Is. 40:29-31, Is. 41:10-13, Is. 53:2; Is 54:10, 2 Chron. 7:14, etc.). When we put our Hope in those promises, we are truly counting on the Lord!

In our quest to receive help from God in our times of need, there is one more thing that is our responsibility:

"I long for the Lord
   more than sentries long for the dawn,
   yes, more than sentries long for the dawn."
(Vs. 6 NLT)

In other words, we can't just say, "God help me!" and expect that our problems will lift and our lives will be returned to normal. We need to believe that He will help us, and we need to long for Him. Like a deer panting for water, so our souls should long for Him (See Ps. 42:1)!

Think about it: If you ask a total stranger for assistance, how much faith do you have in his/her ability to assist you? But if you spend time with that person and you come to understand that the person is someone who is worthy of your trust, then it will be much easier to believe in his/her ability to help you. It is no different with God. When we long for the Lord, we will get to know Him, we will spend time with Him, we will learn that He is, indeed, trustworthy!

But the Psalm doesn't leave us there. It goes on to give us a promise:

"O Israel, hope in the Lord;
   for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
   His redemption overflows.
He himself will redeem Israel
   from every kind of sin."
(Vs. 7-8 NLT)

When we go to God in our times of trouble, when we long for Him, when we put our trust in Him, we aren't putting our trust in an unknown, untested entity. We're putting our trust and hope in His unfailing love, the same love that was already proven to us at the cross: "God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him." (1 John 4:9 NLT)!

Because of the cross, we have no reason whatsoever to doubt God's unfailing love or His desire to help us. Because of the cross, we can truly come to Him when we are in the depths of despair. We can truly trust in Him, for He has already proven His unending love to the World!

In the depths of despair? Come to the One who has already redeemed us from every kind of sin!

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

(To access the entire "Lessons From the Psalms" mini-series, please click here.)