Changing things up just a little bit today for what I’m preaching, for all of you who speak Portuguese or would like to see/hear what it sounds like when I preach in Portuguese, I’ve provided the video of the message that I preached at the Fundamentals of the Faith Conference last week in Albufeira, Portugal. (Content starts after about 20 seconds or so…and I get to the pulpit around the 5:30 mark….so, please, just be patient or skip ahead if you like.) After the jump, for those of you who only hear a bunch of gobbledy-gook and slurring in the video, the normal transcript of the message is provided in English. Constructive comments can be made in the comments section.
I don’t like to talk about the financial crisis, as it is regularly called here in Portugal. I understand that people are struggling, that they are suffering – that unemployment is high, and it seems that it rises daily. I understand that factories are closing, that austerity measures are growing, that the tax rate is climbing and that the government more than a little unstable.
I don’t like to talk about the recession, the crisis, because I believe that people begin to program their thoughts along that line of thinking and begin to “own” the recession. That is, people start living, whether things are good or bad, as if the crisis is a foregone conclusion that will continue indefinitely. They think and thus live as if the recession will never end.
I don’t like to talk about the depression, because, frankly I’m tired of hearing about it. I’d rather hear about the grace and power of God that infinitely greater than any financial crisis. I don’t like to talk about it, but I’m going to start in that exact spot today.
Looking at Psalms 119:25, 28 we find David in the middle of a crisis. He was terribly depressed and almost beyond consolation. The image that he invokes in these verses, leaves no doubt about the profundity or depth of the situation. Look with me at what he says at the first part of the two verses: “My soul cleaveth unto the dust…” (v. 25) and “My soul melteth for heaviness…” (v. 28).
This crisis rooted itself deeply into David’s life. In the Middle Eastern culture, many times dust indicates suffering or lamentation. You probably remember certain Bible characters that covered themselves in dust and ashes. Well, David’s soul here cleaves (or has firmly attached itself) to the dust. He cried constantly. When we find him in verse 28, the only way he has to describe his condition is by saying that his soul seems as if it is melting out of heaviness. He was so weak and tired from sadness that he used he metaphor of a candle. It was as if his soul was literally melting from the heat of a constant flame. He had no strength at all. As he wept, tears dropped from his face like wax. As he cried, more of him fell on the floor and a little less of him remained intact.
That is a depression, a crisis – be it financial, professional, spiritual, or familial. The winds and waves of problems rocked the boat of his heart, and if we only read the first part of each verse, the author seems completely without any recourse. Said another way, if we only read the first part of each verse, if we only concentrate on the crisis…and I hate to say this, then we would simply be doing what the majority of people here in Portugal are doing.
It makes sense then to read the last part of the verses, right? The first verse that we read (25) concludes saying, “…quicken thou me according to thy word.” and the second (28) ends by saying, “…strengthen me according unto thy word.”
Notice that the line of thinking remains intact in both of the verses. Crisis? Check. A cry for help? Check. (“quicken me…” “ strengthen me…”) A cure? Check. It is exactly the same in both verses. “…according to thy word.”
As I already mentioned, I don’t want to focus on the recession. That doesn’t help. It only aggravates the problem.
The next topic, then is the cry for help. Obviously, David, a man after God’s own heart looks first to God when his enemies surround him. In this moment of difficulty, he looked to the Savior. That goes without saying.
However, there is something interesting about David’s cry that I don’t want to just gloss over today. Here, in our text, he asked for something very specific, twice, from the very same source, twice, while requesting the same method of delivery, if you will, twice.
David understood something very important. God uses His perfect Word to provide the spiritual sustenance that His servant needs. David didn’t ask for a better job. David didn’t ask for some sort of fantastic vision or a warm feeling inside or even for more money. He simply wanted the strength that comes from God’s Word, in the middle of his depression.
That’s what he wanted and that is what he trusted God would provide. I would even go a bit further by saying that what he asked for is exactly what he knew God would provide.
Therefore, let’s look at this for a moment. Let’s not focus on the crisis, instead, let’s focus on the counsel that comes from the marvelous Word of God, even in times of hopelessness. So, what do we know about our Bible? Or, better, what should we be reminded about our Bible when we find ourselves in the midst of a deep, dark depression? When struggling and crying fill our days and heaviness our nights, what do we know about our Bible?
First, we know that we can trust it. The inerrant Word of God serves as a reliable source of strength. We can hope in God’s Word, if for no other reason, because others have hoped in it before us. It was where David went when he didn’t have any strength. As manna from above, it provides us with daily strength. Realize this – David didn’t ask for strength through corporate worship with other believers. He didn’t ask for strength through service or through prayer, but rather through the Scriptures.
The basis of hope is a firm foundation, or it could also be said that hope is founded on something that is trustworthy. Curiously, after searching through several dictionaries for the definition of the word trust, I discovered that one of the oldest definitions of the word hope is trust.
Looking one more time at our Psalm for today, we see evidence of David slowly coming out of his depression. In verse 49, he calls out: “Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.” Here, he asks to be reminded of God’s Word, because in the past, he had hoped in it. Additionally, he knew that if the Holy Spirit would only remind him of God’s Word, there would be light at the end of the tunnel.
Secondly, we read in verse 50, “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” So, David goes from his soul cleaving to the dust, to imploring strength from the Lord, to affirming that His Word has comforting as well as quickening power. This same Word of God consoles and gives life, but the way that the verse is constructed makes us understand that the Bible first edified David and gave him life, then he found comfort in the midst of his affliction.
Let’s apply this to modern day Portugal – what would happen if more people started trusting in what God said in His Word and not what the Prime Minister says or what the Troika might say? There would be a transformation of lives and more and more people would have the boldness to look past the depression and say, “It looks dark, but I’m blessed.”
When we are strengthened…when we are quickened by the power of the Scriptures, we can shake off our crutches and walk in peace and comfort and quietness of spirit. We can walk without the necessity of artificial comfort (crutches) of spending money, food, alcohol, relationships, or social media. We need to be strengthened by the Holy Bible. In the middle of a depression we don’t need more Facebook friends.
Finally, we can trust in the Word of God because it brings us closer to a perfect God.