Recently I introduced a new series of articles based upon my five year anniversary in August from finishing cancer treatment and remaining cancer-free.
When I first returned to the pulpit in November of 2005, I preached a series of three sermons from Psalm 116 entitled Seven Biblical Resolutions Distilled from a Battle with Cancer. You can listen to part one here. You can listen to part two here.
I articulated this theme from the text in light of the apparent deliverance enjoyed by the psalmist from some previous life-and-death threat:
Deliverance by God from desperate straits warrants renewed resolves in a relationship with God.
In the previous two posts I addressed the first two resolves: delight in God and pray to God. Now for the third.
Resolved – to rest on God (5-7).
Notice in v. 5 how he rehearses various aspects of God’s glorious character with which he has became even more fascinated. Gracious is the Lord. When God snatches you from the jaws death, what else can He be? And righteous. God was not unrighteous for permitting me to battle head and neck cancer. He does all things well. The Lord is good and righteous in all His ways. And He is merciful. Verse 6 – he preserves the simple.
The word simple means without guile or deceit, open and trusting in God. It’s similar to the idea of Jesus in Matt. 11:25 when he prayed I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children. The uncomplicated. The believing. Such God preserves. He exercises great care over. He watches and keeps. Psalm 121:5 says The Lord is your keeper, your shade on your right hand.
What difference should such truth make in our lives? How should we then live? Do we really reckon God as gracious, righteous, merciful, who watches over us such that He numbers every hair on our heads and not a sparrow drops to earth without His notice? If so how should we talk to ourselves? We must talk as the psalmist does in v. 7 – Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
It’s as if his circumstances temporarily disrupted his spiritual gyroscope and led him to fret and worry. He strayed from the peace and confidence of a rest on God. Sometimes you have to talk to yourself this way. You have to remember the character of the nature of God and preach to yourself, Return O my soul to your rest, God has dealt bountifully with you. He has blessed you beyond your wildest imagination. So do not fret. Do not be anxious. Do not wig out. Do not melt down. None of those things glorify God. Psalm 37:1 says Fret not yourself because of evildoers; Verse 3 – Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
One of the most convicting and penetrating things I think Oswald Chambers ever wrote in his work My Utmost for His Highest has to do with this subject:
Fussing always ends in sin. We imagine that a little anxiety and worry are an indication of how really wise we are; it is much more an indication of how really wicked we are. Fretting springs from a determination to get our own way. Our Lord never worried and He was never anxious, because He was not “out” to realize His own ideas; He was “out” to realize God’s ideas. Fretting is wicked if you are a child of God.
Have you been bolstering up that stupid soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God? Put all “supposing” on one side and dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about that thing. All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.
How’s your self-talk these days? Take your cue from the psalmist if necessary. Tell your soul to return to your rest knowing how bountifully He has dealt with you.
That’s a resolve worth making whether He has delivered you from some desperate strait or not.