Regardless of who you are, or whether you realize it or not, spiritual warfare seems to be the norm these days. The question is not whether we’ll face hard times and even persecution, but rather, “What do we do when attacked by the enemy?” Do we give up and throw in the towel?” Do we look for sympathy and feel sorry for ourselves? Or do we seek strength from a supernatural source?
I don’t know about you, but I still hear people ask the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Maybe the question should be, “Why do we think good people should be exempt from bad things; or how should good people respond when bad things happen?”
It’s obvious in Psalms 119:81-88, the person that wrote this is hurting. Have you ever been there? He needs rescuing (v. 81), he’s worn out from waiting for God to keep His word (v.82), he’s suffering – maybe not physically, but emotionally (v. 84), proud people are trying to trip him up (v.85), people are lying about him (v. 86), he’s almost died (v. 87). Yet, he continues to seek God’s word and prays for revival, as he says, “Show that You love me and let me live, so that I may obey all of Your commands” (v. 88).
Verse 81 opens with the theme of suffering and the longing for divine intervention. The hour is urgent. The crisis is clear. The need is great. The intensity is unbearable. He is, however, not in despair, as he says, “Your Word is my only hope.”
For this writer, this isn’t a drill or academic exercise, the persecution is real. Using a simile, the psalm writer describes himself as a “dried-up wineskine” (v, 83). This means that he is shriveled up like an old wineskin. He’s cracked and dry!!! Yet, he stands on God’s word in his distress: “But I have not forgotten your teachings.” In his pain, God’s promises are there.
How wonderful and refreshing it is to know that in the midst of hard times we can find refuge and salvation in the Word of God. While I don’t have issues with conferences, retreats and a host of other Spiritual gatherings, let’s not forget that Jesus’ mission is to, “Seek and Save.” What saves this psalm writer during persecution is the Word of God. He draws his strength from God!
If you or anyone you know is being persecuted or attacked, going through hard times, being dragged through the mud, take the time to share this devotional with them.
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Be encouraged! Do not to give up… do not give in to the enemy. Just remember the victory is in Christ Jesus and you will come through whatever you’re struggling with.
Give me fortitude to seek Your face when hard times come. Holy Spirit help me to draw strength from Your Word. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen
Mark was Spiritual Director for VdC from 2016 to 2019. He's written many of the devotions, especially the Devote and Affirm series, found on this website.