This is the sermon for Sunday morning, July 27th, 2008.
Thomas Andrew Dorsey was a black jazz musician from Atlanta. In the twenties he gained a certain amount of notoriety as the composer of jazz tunes with suggestive lyrics, but he gave all that up in 1926 to concentrate exclusively on spiritual music. “Peace in the Valley” is one of his best known songs, but there is a story behind his most famous song that deserves to be told. In 1932 the times were hard for Dorsey. Just trying to survive the depression years as a working musician meant tough sledding. On top of that, his music was not accepted by many people. Some said it was much too worldly-the devil’s music, they called it. Many years later Dorsey could laugh about it. He said, “I got kicked out of some of the best churches in the land.” But the real kick in the teeth came one night in St. Louis when he received a telegram informing him that his pregnant wife had died suddenly. Dorsey was so filled with grief that his faith was shaken to the roots, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, he turned to the discipline he knew best-music. In the midst of agony he wrote the following lyrics:
Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand.
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light;
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.
If you live long enough, you will experience heartache, disappointment, and sheer helplessness. The Lord is our most precious resource in those hours of trauma. Tom Dorsey understood that. His song was originally written as a way of coping with his personal pain, but even today it continues to bless thousands of others when they pass through times of hardship.
Let me ask you a question this morning: How many of you in the last few weeks have been living a life filled with sorrows and tears? Has the sorrow and the hurts been so intense that you feel like your heart just aches – screams out in pain.
I want to encourage you this morning. I want you to know that the Lord understands your hurts and pains. He longs to walk with you through them. There is a lesson to be learned from going through pain and sorrows.
During trying times always know that you can depend on His faithful love.
Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to breathe on His Word as we preach it this morning.
Psalms 33:18-22 HCSB – 18 Now the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him— those who depend on His faithful love 19 to deliver them from death and to keep them alive in famine. 20 We wait for the LORD; He is our help and shield. 21 For our hearts rejoice in Him, because we trust in His holy name. 22 May Your faithful love rest on us, LORD, for we put our hope in You.
1. God watches over those who have a fear (awesome respect) for Him.
Psalms 33:18-19 HCSB – 18 Now the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him— those who depend on His faithful love 19 to deliver them from death and to keep them alive in famine.
A. The word fear in v. 18 means, “worshipful submission, reverential awe, and obedient respect to the covenant keeping God.”
This word speaks of the awesome awe of His great mercy to even the worst of sinners.
B. God is our keeper.
He will keep us in the midst of our dry, famine times.
He keeps us because His love is constant, and steadfast toward His children.
D. Some translations say, in v. 18, “wait or hope”. The HCSB says, “depend.” I like that way of translating it.
Since the Lord’s eyes are upon those who are in worshipful submission to Him, then our total and complete dependence must be upon Him as well. Since His eyes are upon us, we will not be forsaken, or forgotten.
E. Notice His great promise in Isaiah for those going through difficult times.
Isaiah 41:17 ESV – When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
2. During trying times, wait on the Lord.
Psalms 33:20 HCSB – We wait for the LORD; He is our help and shield.
A. The word, “wait” in Hebrew means, “to wait with earnest expectation.”
It is more than just a passive waiting. But it is a waiting, knowing that since God loves you and His eyes are upon you, He will be your constant help and shield during trying times.
B. He is our help.
The Hebrew for this word is pretty simple, just means, “To help.” The dictionary definition is, “To give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; to contribute strength or means to; to render assistance to; to cooperate effectively with; to aid and assist; to save; to rescue.”
This is exactly how God helps us during difficult times. He provides for us what is necessary to complete a task or satisfy a need (the Holy Spirit); He contributes His strength to us; He comes to our aid; He saves; He rescues.
C. He is our shield.
The shield that is described here is not just some small shield that is round that only protects part of the body. This is a battle shield. These shields were about 5 feet tall and rectangular. During battle you could kneel down and hide behind the shield from the arrows and lances of the opposing forces. This is the type of shield that God is for the believer. We can hide behind His protection, He will cover us, and watch over us during times of sorrow and bitter tears.
3. A heart that completely trust God during trying times will be a heart full of gladness.
Psalms 33:21-22 HCSB – 21 For our hearts rejoice in Him, because we trust in His holy name. 22 May Your faithful love rest on us, LORD, for we put our hope in You.
A. True biblical happiness does not come because there aren’t any trials, but it comes to the child of God because all of our confidence is in Christ.
B. The word “rejoice” here is rather interesting.
It is not the jumping up and down and dancing type of rejoicing, full of excitement. It is the quite gladness and being merry that comes from just simple trusting in the name of the Lord and His faithful love. It comes when we focus on the fact that during times of pain and sorrow, He sees us, His love is faithful toward us, and therefore we put our complete hope and trust in Him.
Are you going through a trying time? Are you depressed during this trying time? There is a key to happiness during trials, and that is put your complete confidence in Christ and His ability to be your helper and shield of protection. His eyes are ever watching you. His love is constant and faithful toward you. He wants you to experience joy in the midst of trials.
If you look at your constant trials you will be depressed. But if you look at the constant, faithful love of the Savior toward you in the midst of the trial, and put your complete confidence in Him, you will find that He will give you joy in the midst of the trial.