As August marks the five year anniversary of my finishing treatment for head and neck cancer, I find myself thinking a lot about that season in my life. I had no idea going in what a monumental deliverance God would work on my behalf through the process. It amounted, in my estimation, to nothing less than a rescue from the jaws of death.
For that reason I had little trouble deciding what text to preach from when I finally returned to the pulpit. God drew me to Psalm 116. You can listen to the first of these sermons here.
There the anonymous psalmist clearly celebrates a miraculous deliverance from some desperate straits. He uses terms that suggest he nearly lost his life. He thought he was a goner. For example, in v. 3 he writes, the snares of death encompassed me. And in v. 8 – you have delivered my soul from death.
He wrote the psalm post-deliverance to celebrate the miraculous intervention of God into his precarious circumstances. Laced throughout the text we find repeated resolves. This thing, whatever it was, made an astonishing impact on the writer. He recorded the specifics for the church in all ages.
From his example I drew this thesis for a series of three messages:
Deliverance by God from desperate straits warrants renewed resolves in a relationship with God.
When God intervenes in your plight and brings you through to the other side and you know that no one else but He could have engineered your deliverance, then it makes all the sense in the world to assess your relationship with Him and make serious resolves to strengthen it. There are seven in the text and, Lord willing, I will blog about them one-by-one throughout the rest of this month.
I continue to be grateful for length of days and look forward to our special celebration of thanksgiving for this miraculous deliverance on August 29!
It begs the question, does God’s action in delivering you from peril warrant a resolve on your part to strengthen the relationship afterward or is it that the relationship is strengthened by His action and your resolve is the natural manifestation of that closer relationship? How many stories are there of soldiers facing and surviving life-threatening battles only to forge a life-long bond as brothers? Adversity and stressful situations, regardless of the arena of our lives in which they occur, build relationships and camaraderie. They are bonding experiences. If I can bond with non-Christians over the assorted events of working in the resort or the meeting & convention industry, how much more would I bond with God as the result of something much more serious & profound?
Good question, sir. Thanks for the comment. To quote that esteemed philosopher, Forest Gump, “I think it’s both.”