A Lifetime of Help
by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
These days I am immersed in the encouraging book of Psalms as I seek to meet my latest writing deadline — a new Bible Study “A Thankful Heart.” As someone who prays the psalms daily, I am continually amazed at the fresh message from familiar verses. God’s Word is always relevant and appropriate for our daily needs. And nowhere is that more evident than in the poetry and prayer and praise of the psalms.
Today I was reading Psalm 71 — thankful for God’s Help through the years… “Those who pray the psalms are aware that, in spite of their own infidelities to God over the years, God has nonetheless remained faithful. Second century Bishop Polycarp, when pressured to either renounce his faith or die a violent death, said ‘For eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme the King who saved me?‘” (Christ in the Psalms by Patrick Henry Reardon) Here are some of my own thoughts as I work through Psalm 71…
1 O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. 2 Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free. Is there a situation or habit in your life right now that you desperately need to be freed from? Are you fearful of the consequences of threatening circumstances (or even people) in your life? May I suggest that when these times come, we also turn to God for protection and pray these verses.
9 And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside. Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing. 10 For my enemies are whispering against me. They are plotting together to kill me. 11 They say, “God has abandoned him. Let’s go and get him, for no one will help him now.” Are you simply exhausted from the battles of life? Are you in a season where body, mind and soul are beginning to weaken in some ways? Do you ever feel like a forgotten person, as if no one knows what you are going through and worse, no one cares? Be careful, because in such fragile seasons, we leave a crack in our spiritual armor for the enemy to come and inflict great harm on us emotionally and spiritually. If you are at such a point in life, send up what I like to call an ‘arrow prayer’ 12 O God, don’t stay away. My God, please hurry to help me.
14 But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more. 15 I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, though I am not skilled with words. 16 I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just. In the midst of challenging circumstances we can choose to trust in God’s Help and be people of Hope. Are you going to give up or will you live out your faith in a radical way by choosing to Thank God privately and to publicly pronounce His faithfulness and goodness in your life? Do you think others are watching as you go through tough times? What words do they hear from you?
SONS (and DAUGHTERS too)
18 Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me. If you have been blessed with years, then what shall you do with your status today in a world that worships youth? Be a wise woman or a mentoring man. Don’t focus on what you have lost, but make every opportunity to declare what God has done in your long life! The greatest gift we can ever give a younger generation (and certainly our own sons and daughters) is to recount God’s faithfulness and provision in the hard times of our lives. This is a testimony they cannot ignore. What story of seeing God’s miraculous hand at work will you tell a new generation today?
20 You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. 21 You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again. I know that there has been suffering in your life, and you might even be going through some right now. But do you believe that God can truly Restore and Lift and Comfort you? This is a biblical promise from Psalm 71 and I hope each of us can pray these verses today, knowing that He is able to meet us in our deepest place, and not leave us there.
23 I will shout for joy and sing your praises, for you have ransomed me. 24 I will tell about your righteous deeds all day long, for everyone who tried to hurt me has been shamed and humiliated. And this is how the psalm ends – with shouting! And singing for joy at what God has done in our lives! We may not live to see our ‘enemies’ thwarted, but each of us who has read the whole Bible knows the ending — God Wins! So why not tell about God’s righteous deeds ‘all day long’? Sure, you can do it in subtle ways at work, or you can seek to comfort others with the comfort you received by sharing a prayer or verse that helped you. There are many ways to shout and sing with both sensitivity and substance. Just remember, we only have this one day to glorify God. Will we be like the anonymous psalmist here and leave a legacy of PRAISE?
And now, a hymn to close: “O God, our Help in ages past, Our Hope for years to come, Our Shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal Home. Under the shadow of Thy throne, Still may we dwell secure; Sufficient is Thine arm alone, And our defense is sure.” (Isaac Watts)
under the mercy, Cindy
©2012 Lucinda Secrest McDowell