Do you remember the theme song from the movie Titanic?
This blog has nothing to do with it.
Well, maybe the title does. “My Heart Goes On.” And, it does. In a recent entry, I found myself being unexpectedly vulnerable. In a round-a-bout manner, I admitted that spiritually I am neither where I once was nor where I want to be.
Rather, I am here: Discontent in my contentment of malaise. Yet I continue to fight. I continue to believe. And my prayer is that hope, followed by joy, might be the result.
It’s a small word, but such a huge necessity in life. Sometimes–as we notice in Psalm 42–we have to remind ourselves to hope in God. We are also taught in Scripture that our perseverance and the Word of God produces hope in us. Paul put it this way:
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).
I am called to persevere and I am called to remain in the Word of God.
Yet, I am not to be prideful of my measly good works. Anything good I actually do (persevering in the faith, continuing to read and meditate upon the Scriptures, watching and listening to sermons, attending church, etc.) are actually gifts from God.
Paul followed Romans 15:4 with Romans 15:5!
“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement”
And a further reminder that these gifts do indeed come from God is located later in the chapter:
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).
So–at the very foundational level–what must I do? Remain in contact with God through whatever means are available to me. He is the source of my spiritual life and He is the cure for my spiritual sickness. He saved me. He will sanctify me. He began a good work in me. He will complete it.
Didn’t I read above that God gives encouragement?!
That’s where I find myself today. Encouraged. God isn’t going anywhere and I am going to continue holding on to Him–even if some days it is by the fingertips of faith. Thankfully, His grace refused to let me slip.
And I have the distinct impression that some of you can really relate to my current condition. Perhaps knowing you are not alone is just the comfort you needed today to keep your grip and God. And hope.
Lord, my allotted portion and my cup,
you have made my destiny secure.
Pleasant places were measured out for me;
fair to me indeed is my inheritance.
Those are the sentiments of the author of Psalm 16.
John Piper and Jonathan Edwards simply reword what had been stated earlier. Consider these words from John Calvin (1502-1546):
The Psalmist confirms more fully what he had already said in the preceding verse with respect to his resting, with a composed and tranquil mind, in God alone; or rather, he so glories in God as nobly to despise all that the world imagines to be excellent and desirable without him. By magnifying God in such honorable and exalted strains, he gives us to understand that he does not desire any thing more as his portion and felicity. This doctrine may be profitable to us in many ways. It ought to draw us away not only from all the perverse inventions of superstition, but also from all the allurements of the flesh and of the world. Whenever, therefore, those things present themselves to us which would lead us away from resting in God alone, let us make use of this sentiment as an antidote against them, that we have sufficient cause for being contented, since he who has in himself an absolute fullness of all good has given himself to be enjoyed by us. In this way we will experience our condition to be always pleasant and comfortable; for he who has God as his portion is destitute of nothing which is requisite to constitute a happy life.
“We have sufficient cause for being contented”
God is enough.
That is an objective reality. But how is it possible for our experience to match that objective reality? How can we reach a point where we are fully-satisfied if all we have is God?
Is it by sampling the buffet of the options in the world around us?
You don’t know how good the burger is at Kenny’s Bar and Grill without having first tasted a McDonald’s sandwich. Isn’t that the message of the book of Ecclesiastes? A man with every flavor alternative found it all bland. Nothing satisfied. He had numbed his taste buds.
Another author offers a better approach.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
Two aspects of that verse are obvious: (1) We can taste of God, and (2) When we taste of God, we find Him to be good.
First, we can taste of God. This does not mean God is food or that food is God. Instead, this teaches us that God can be experienced. We can apprehend Him with our senses. A vibrant relationship with a living God can be become a reality.
Second, when we taste of God, we find Him to be good. The author is not meaning that we find the Lord to be omnibenevolent (all-good). Rather, he is teaching us that God is satisfying. When we truly experience God, we being to comprehend that He truly is all that we need.
Several passages in the New Testament proclaim this. I have pasted them below. As you read them, meditate upon your present experience with Christ. Do you have a healthy, growing relationship with God? Are you finding the Lord to be good–satisfying? Are the sentiments offered below part of your own testimony?
Php 4:12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Heb 13:5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”
Heb 13:6 so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”