By Charles Fowler
B&R Guest Columnist
President, Carson-Newman University
When my heart is anxious, my circumstances troubling, and the way forward seems uncertain, the Psalms are a wonderful source for encouragement and instruction. While Psalm 50:15 is not talking directly and specifically about COVID-19, I believe that it provides some principles that do help us interpret these difficult days and respond faithfully.
Psalm 50:15 – “and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (ESV)
This verse allows us to see at least two truths about days of trouble.
(1) They happen — “and call upon me in the day of trouble; …”
Perhaps we can all take a moment and reflect on this truth. My guess is that every person reading this devotion can share personal stories related to days and seasons of trouble that have visited you and your family.
It is presumed that a day of trouble will come. God is instructing us how to respond when our day of trouble comes. COVID-19 qualifies as a day of trouble for all of us.
(2) They hurt — “and call upon me in the day of trouble; …”
Psalm 50:15 provides a background of desperation. Days of trouble are at best uncomfortable and more than likely painful. Pain is what would motivate a cry of desperation for deliverance.
During this season, some are literally struggling with the disease itself. Others are experiencing financial challenges due to being off work for several weeks or having been furloughed indefinitely.
All of us have confronted fear – fear of the sickness, fear of death, fear of being alone, fear of losing loved ones, fear of an uncertain future, fear of the loss of routine, and so on. The consequences of our days of trouble hurt!
The community of faith
This verse also provides us a glimpse of at least two responsibilities of the people of God when they experience days of trouble.
(1) We must pray — “and call upon me. …”
The psalmist begins verse 15 by admonishing the people of God to “call” upon the Lord. This “call” necessitates a posture of humility. It showcases our inabilities and inadequateness. It acknowledges that God is always in the position to save. He is always and infinitely resourceful. He is never poor or needy. He has options in every situation that we have never conceived, nor could we implement apart from His enablement. He is never lacking in wisdom. He never frets over what to do next. He is Jehovah God.
(2) We must praise — “…. and you shall glorify me.”
Let’s consider Psalm 42:11 — “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God” (NIV).
In this verse, the psalmist is questioning the reason that his soul is in despair; then he essentially commands himself to return to the position of faith that is expressed by hope in God. The expression, “I will yet praise Him” signifies an enduring faith and a forward-facing outlook. He becomes persistent in his praise for the Lord. This is a redirecting of his focus to God away from the circumstances causing him to despair. His faith is defining him, not his struggle.
Psalm 50:15 tells us that our prayer is going to be followed by a time of praise. So, let’s stand in a place of faith, entrusting our future to the One who owns it. Let’s not let COVID-19 define us!
A faithful God
Psalm 50:15 provides us two beautiful responses from our Father.
(1) He hears — “… I will deliver you …”
This statement of deliverance is first and foremost a reminder that God inclines His ear to cries for deliverance. This gave me great comfort.
The thought of God, sitting on the throne of all creation, inclining His ear to my prayer is so humbling and inspiring. Trying to imagine all the sounds He hears in creation and the countless demands upon His sovereignty and power make it awe-inspiring that He listens to our prayers.
In our verse, God listened to the prayer because His response was directed to the circumstances connected to their day of trouble. God not only heard; He understood the need.
(2) He heals — “… I will deliver you …”
Finally, we notice that God delivered them from their day of trouble. He acted. He got personally involved with them. Psalm 50:15 lets us see that even trouble must yield to His presence and power.
So, during these days of trouble, let’s believe God to be gracious, truthful, generous, attentive, active, powerful, personal, engaged, creative, compassionate, and in general be everything the Word of God says He is, while doing everything the Word of God says He can do. B&R