My Dad had a secret.
My brother and I discovered his secret.
In his room, hidden in the back corner of his nightstand drawer was a box of... Whoppers. You know, those chocolate-covered heavenly malted milk balls. Those were his favorite junk food, and he kept a secret stash in his room often. They were not very cheap, so he kept them for his own more discerning palate and gave my brother and me cheaper treats. He knew we would eat anything sweet, so there was no sense in wasting money on them for us. Not to mention, we would eat them like popcorn while he would eat a handful here and there.
Over the years, I have come to realize that many parents do this! They have a secret stash somewhere in there room. Matter of fact, it's not uncommon to find a small bag of peanut M&Ms in my husband's headboard cabinet of the bed. (M&Ms are expensive here!)
Yes, sometimes parents keep things hidden from their children, but there are some things we desperately need to share with our children.
Psalm 78:4 "We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done."
Worship of God
""...the praises of the LORD..."
Our children need to see a living, personal walk with the Lord. They don't need dried up religion, choking tradition, or dead habits that substitute for real worship. They need to see that we are sold out, fully committed, and in sweet communion with our Father. They need to see it, not just hear about it. They see us praising, singing, praying, thanking, and sitting at His feet daily.
The Fear of the Lord
"... and his strength..."
This next generation needs to see our respect for the Lord and for the things of God. They need to see us humbling ourselves before Him. They need to see that we reverence Him as the Creator of all things, the Holy Judge, and our Saviour. They need to see us stand firmly on righteousness and that we shun things that are against Him and His holiness. Our God is strong and powerful. Our children should not see us treating Him lightly or irreverently, nor casually standing by as others do.
"... and his wonderful works that he has done."
We need to pass on to the next generation God's Word, who He is, and what He has done. They need to see that His Word is true and we can trust it!
Why is it so important to pass these things on to our children? What is the purpose of it all? That there would be raised a Godly generation, and that they in turn could then pass it on to their children!
Psalm 78:6-8 "That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God."
We desperately need a generation that:
"... set their hope in God..."
Without faith it is impossible to please Him. This next generation needs to see that God can be trusted even in the darkest hour. They need to see that they can confidently follow Him.
"... not forget the works of God..."
The next generation needs to know who God is and what He has done. Our generation has become Biblically ignorant. We know very little about our God and His Word, yet we pride ourselves in our spirituality. What contradiction! When our children come to us for counsel, we cannot handle the Bible skillfully enough to give them real help. We need to get in the Word and get before our Father. We need to know Him intimately so that we can pass these things on to the next generation.
"... but keep his commandments:"
A fully surrendered life is a treasure indeed. But our generation has become masters at sidestepping the clear commands of God. We have learned to eloquently argue the case for disobeying the Word. But we need to show this next generation what it means to submit, to surrender my will for His command. Instead we are raising a generation who knows all the excuses of why holiness is not relevant for today's generation. His command has not changed.
1 Peter 1:15 "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;"
Let's not hide God's Word from this next generation. Let's not hide true worship or the fear of the Lord. Instead, let's make these things our focus and passion. Pass it on to our children.
I love watching storms roll in from the safety of my front porch, but do you know where I would be terrified to see a storm? It would scare me to death to be on a boat on the sea!
As Asaph wrote Psalm 77, through the inspiration of the Lord, he began picturing himself on the waters in the storm. His view of the storm was a little different, though. Typically when we see storms, we think of the storm being the enemy, and we are needing God to intervene and rescue us. Asaph however saw the true nature of the storm.
Psalm 77:16-20 "The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook. Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron."
Why were the waters stirred up and troubled? From where were the arrows of lightening coming? What was the thunder?
Asaph recognized that God was in control of the storm. This trial in his life wasn't an accident that happened and he suddenly needed God's help. This storm was part of God's plan and work in his life. Yes, God's arrows, God's thundering, God's stirring of the waters. How is this good news? How does this help me when I am in a storm? How could Asaph sing a song about God throwing arrows in his life? The key is the last verse.
It seems like the last verse is completely out of place. As a homeschool mom, if I were grading Asaph's writing, I would circle the last sentence with my red pen of judgment and write "off topic." It just doesn't seem to fit! But actually, it's the key to understanding our storms and our God.
Psalm 77:20 "Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron."
You see, Asaph knew the children of Israel were (and still are) God's chosen people. God made a promise to Abraham, and He will keep that promise. He is the Shepherd leading His flock. Our Shepherd leads us. Sometimes He leads us right in the middle of a storm. The amazing thing is that our Shepard who stirs the waters can also part the waters just like He did as Moses and Aaron led the children of Israel through the Red Sea with enemies pursuing. Sometimes He stirs the waters and sends out His arrows. It's during those times we need to remember He is the Master of the wind and seas. They have to obey Him! If He so chooses, the stormy water has to part at His command. Sometimes He wants us to weather the storm, trusting He is in control. Other times He parts the waters for us to walk through on dry ground. We have to trust it's the same Shepherd in both situations... the Water Stirrer and the Water Separator. Trust the Shepherd of the Storm in the storm.
The rain is pouring down on you. The wind is blowing the rain in sheets and it stings as it hits your cheeks. The lightening surrounds you and the thunder engulfs you. You are in a storm. Suddenly you find yourself questioning God. Suddenly you begin asking:
Are You there, God?
Do You care?
Why aren't You listening to my pleas?
Why is this happening to me?
Why am I so alone?
If You care so much, why did you allow this?
In your heart you know it's a spiritual battle. How do you combat these feelings? How do you gain victory over questioning God's favour, His kindness (mercy), His Word (promises), His graciousness, and His compassion (tender mercies)?
The psalmist, Asaph, questioned all these things in his storm, too, but he gained victory. How did he do it?
He Looked Back
Psalm 77:10, 11, 15 "And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.... Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah."
The same God who had done so many great things in the past for His people, Israel, had not changed. He rescued them. He delivered them, He showed compassion on them. Asaph rehearsed those works to help remind him who His God was.
When you are in the storm and begin to question God, take a look back at how good He has been to you in the past. Remind yourself of the wondrous things He has done for you. Rehearse them out loud and praise the Lord for His compassion and love for you.
He looked at the Present
Psalm 77:12 "I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings."
The Psalmist then reminded himself of the things that God was doing right then! Even though there was a storm, God was doing wondrous things right then! He took time to dwell on those things and then to speak those things out loud.
When you are going through a storm, remind yourself of the loving kindness and blessings God is showing you right then even in the storm. Vocalize it. Praise Him to others. Give thanks and testify of His goodness. There really are so many benefits that He gives daily that our list of thanks would be endless!
He looked to the Future
Psalm 77:13-14 "Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people."
Paths don't just stay in one place. They continue on to the future. The psalmist was focusing on God continuing being the same. He is the God that does wonders... yesterday, today, and in the future.
When you are in a storm, remind yourself that God doesn't change. Look to Him guiding you in His path in the future.
He Looked at the Storm from a Different Perspective
(To be continued)
The dark clouds roll in, and the sky goes black. The clouds begin to glow with sporadic flashes of light. Then comes the rumble in the distance.
When I see these storms roll in, I love to go sit on the front porch and watch. As the storm gets closer, the thunder booms louder. It echos and rattles off of the concrete buildings around me. Sometimes it explodes so loudly I can feel the impact on my chest and my ears cringe. I feel so small as I sit, watch, and listen to this parade of cannons in the sky. I feel helpless and surrounded. I don't mind these physical storm displays as long as I am somewhere safe. Spiritual storms, however, sometimes leave me feeling vulnerable. Just like physical storms sometimes keep me awake at night, spiritual storms roar and rumble in a barrage of thoughts. Sometimes I feel unsheltered. Forsaken. Alone. The rain cascades down my cheeks.
And I call out.
Just like the Psalmist in Psalm 77, storms can make us feel exposed and vulnerable. They can make us question God. Unlike when I sit on the porch sheltered from the rain while watching the storm roll in, sometimes we get caught out in the middle of the storm. We feel drenched by the rain as it covers us and soaks us.
And we call out.
There are five areas that it is easy to begin to question God when we endure a storm. These five areas can make us feel alone and vulnerable.
Psalm 77:7 "Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah."
When we pray to the Lord in a storm, what exactly are we looking for? When we are in a dark time and calling out to God, what are we hoping for?
to be pleased with, set affection, to approve, delight, enjoy
In a storm, we quickly question if God is still please with us. We question His love and His delight. But did you know that even in a storm of chastisement, the storm demonstrates God's love?
Hebrews 12:6-7 "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?"
Other storms are meant to refine us because He loves us and wants us to grow.
1 Peter 1:7 "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"
1 Peter 4:12-13 "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
In a storm, it's easy to question God's kindness. In our pride sometimes we think, "What did I do to deserve this?"
Lamentations 3:22a "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed..."
God has given us many promises, but when a storm comes along, sometimes we forget those promises. There are promises that He will be with us. There are promises that each trial has a purpose. There are promises that we have the hope of eternal life... the Biblical definition of hope... confident expectation!
2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
Sometimes we question God's graciousness. Does He hear me? Is He listening? Can I come to Him and intreat/humbly beg? Does He give ear to my cries? He hears us!
Psalm 116:2 "Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live."
Lamentations 3:21-23 "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
God has not changed no matter how difficult our storms may be. He still loves His children, works in our lives, and cares deeply. This God... our Father... loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us. It would make no since that He would love us that much to then think He doesn't hear us or care about our problems. Quite the contrary! He loves. He hears. He keeps His promises. And He cares more than our human minds can comprehend.
So how do we combat those feelings that question God's very nature and character while we are going through storms?
(To Be Continued...)