Trusting God in the Wilderness
November 3, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Any marriage counselor will say that trust is essential for a successful marriage relationship. They will also say that trust must be earned or built through faithfulness and integrity. Similarly, trust is essential for our relationship with God. When life is riddled with trial and mystery, however, our trust in God is shaken. How do we grow in our trust in God?
King David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). He penned some of the most important psalms that teach us about living by trust and hope in God. And yet, his life was marked by trials, some of his own doing (Bathsheba) and some by the hands of others (Saul seeking his life; Absalom seeking his life). How can any of us maintain and grow trust in God when life is so tumultuous? Let’s consider David’s example.
David penned Psalm 63 “when he was in the wilderness of Judah.” According to Scripture, David was not a recreational camper. He went to the wilderness because his life was threatened. He wandered and hid in caves while Saul sought to kill him. He turned high tail to the outdoors of the Jordan River when his son approached Jerusalem, presumably seeking to kill his own father. In either case, David wrote this psalm during some of the darkest days of his life. And yet the psalm is marked by hope and confidence in the Lord. What feeds David’s trust?
1. David beheld God as He is. After expressing his desperate longing in verse 1, David expresses the foundation of his trust in verse 2: “I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.” David could not literally look upon God, but he beheld God in his holiness, power, and faithfulness in the tabernacle worship, the “sanctuary” in David’s day. For every Israelite the tabernacle represented God’s faithfulness to keep covenant to their forefathers, God’s redemption of Israel out of Egypt, God’s guidance throughout the wilderness, God’s power to deliver the Promised Land to them, and God’s holiness and forgiveness in the prescribed sacrifices. David did not let his present circumstances dictate his picture of God. God’s revelation of himself through the tabernacle defined for David God’s power, glory, and faithfulness.
Where do you look to see God as He is? God has given us His word and the sacraments to vividly portray for us his power, sovereignty, faithfulness, grace, and glory. If we do not intentionally behold God as David beheld God, the overwhelming chaos of this world will dilute any clear apprehension of God as trustworthy.
2. David knew what was valuable. Evaluating what is most valuable or important in life certainly follows comprehension of truth. David beholds God (vs. 2) and then makes a statement of value in verse 3: “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” God’s covenantal, never-failing, never-giving-up love became more precious to David than his earthly life. David came to believe that what God had for him in His covenant promises and love was secure, eternal, and unfading. Psalm 63:3 is David’s equivalent to Paul’s Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?... [nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When what is most valuable to us is secure, our trust is stable and secure. Trust wavers when what is most valuable is threatened. David was chased from his home and comforts, fleeing for his life, but what was most valuable to him, God’s steadfast love, was never threatened. Therefore, his trust in God never wavered.
What is most valuable to you? Are the ever-present tumultuous circumstances of life threatening your valuables? If so, you will have trust issues with God. Prioritize your valuables to center on what is secure in God.
3. David acts on what he knows and what he values. Consider the action verbs of Psalm 63: David “seeks” God; David “thirsts” for God; David “faints” for God; David “clings” to God. These are all variations of trusting God. His active trust in God has grown out of knowing the truth of God (beholding God in his power and glory) and valuing God above all else (your steadfast love is better). Right thinking led to right feeling led to right actions. Head, then heart, then hands. Trust is not a mere declaration of words. Trust is active.
What does your trust in God look like? Do you actively “seek” Him, “thirst” for Him, “faint” for Him, and “cling” to Him? In many ways, we are just like David living in the wilderness of life. More than ever, we need to actively trust God.