“Up Against It” (John MacDiarmid)

Notes on Sermon Preached at PCF on 24 June 2012

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Reference: Psalm 6

In this song we can see that David is again going through circumstances that he finds difficult. This song helps us in that we can identify with the trials that David is facing but also with the way he deals with them.

1. What seems to be the problem?

This is the question which, in different words, may be asked of anyone visiting a doctor. What is the problem, or series of problems that cause David to write such a Psalm?

a. Discipline

There is a strong suggestion here that David is under the discipline of God. When God adopts us into his family, he is not doing so to give us an easy life. He is doing so because he desires the best for us, and he disciples us that we may share in his holiness. This can be painful and causes David to cry out:

“LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath”.

b. Physical Pain

But that’s not all. David is in deep physical pain:

“Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint;
heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony”

Despite what some erroneous teacher say, Christians – even those filled with the faith and Holy Spirit – are not immune to pain. We can come to God and ask him to alleviate it, and we can trust him in our pain, but we live in our sin-cursed world and pain is a part of our lot.

c. Emotional Anguish

But physical pain, awful though it is, can be dwarfed by the pain of emotional pain. Cirucmstances cause our hearts to be broken, and our emotions to be in tatters. David says:

My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, LORD, how long?

d. Enemies all around

And in addition to everything else, David is surrounded by enemies:

“My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame”

We too know what it is is to have enemies all around physical and spiritual.

What a dark passage David is going through! How does he respond? And how should we respond?

2. What Can I do about it?

It may appear that in the midst of such darkness, David can do little, and neither can we! That is how it appears but it is far from being the case.

a. Face up to the facts

Facing the facts can be a very hard thing to do. We would sometimes rather hide behind a veneer of super-spirituality and protect ourselves from the hard reality. But David gives us an example of reality about his feelings:

I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.

There has to be an honesty about how we are feeling when we are up against it.

b. Take it to God

When he have been honest we are then in a position to take it to God. This Psalm is full of David taking his pain, his disappointment and his hurt to God.

Turn, LORD, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.

We can bottle up our feeling, we can offload it onto other people, but the place where we have to bring it is to God himself.

As the old hymn says:

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

c. Allow God to deal with you

This is not in the sense of punishing us, but in the sense of allowing him to respond to our prayers. When we are honest we God, when we offload our burdens onto Him he promises that “the peace of God which passes all understanding” will fill our souls. We can claim the promise that, whether or not the situation changes, God’s peace will enable us to cope with it. This was David’s experience. At the end of the Psalm his circumstances have not changed – but his attitude has!

The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
the LORD accepts my prayer.

God promises that whatever affliction may come against us “in all these things we are more than conquerors”. What a promise.

A Christian who is up against it can still sing!

JUNE 2012

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