PSALM 116:10-11: “I believed, even when I said, “I am severely oppressed.” In my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Have you ever felt like throwing in the towel? This is an old boxing term. The trainer would throw in the towel when he saw that his fighter was in danger and beyond the strength or ability to continue the fight. When I look over my life there are many times I wanted to throw in the towel and simply give up. Yet, the Psalmist gives us hope in these very situations.
- “The ropes of death were wrapped around me, and the torments of Sheol overcame me; I encountered trouble and sorrow.” Psalms 116:3 CSB
This was not a small issue the Psalmist was facing. It was a matter of life and death. The trouble and sorrow were overwhelming. They were more than he could bear. It was as if all hell was aligned against him. How could he proceed? How could he keep going on?
- “Then I called on the name of the Lord: “ Lord, save me!” Psalms 116:4 CSB
In the midst of our deepest and darkest struggles we are always faced with a decision. Do we try and persevere in our own strength and wisdom? Do we simply throw in the towel and give up? Or, like the Psalmist, do we call upon the name of the Lord? In desperation he cried – “Lord save me!” This is not simply an act of desperation. It is also an act of faith.
And here is where the rubber meets the road.
When we cry out to the Lord, everything does not automatically change. We may even find ourselves in the midst of a greater struggle. The enemy is trying to kill, steal, and destroy. Our flesh is weakened and weary. And, we have a choice to make. Do we succumb to these pressures and throw in the towel, or do we persevere in faith? This is where the Psalmist gives us some startling advice.
- “I believed, even when I said, “I am severely oppressed.” In my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.”
He chose to believe in God’s word, God’s character, and God’s reputation, above believing in his circumstance. When he cried out, everything did not magically change. He believed, and he understood that anything other than trusting in God was merely a lie. At this point he made the transition from believing for the circumstance, to trusting in the One who holds all the circumstances of our lives in His hand. And so the Psalmist could say,
- “The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is compassionate. The Lord guards the inexperienced; I was helpless, and he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” Psalms 116:5-8 CSB
His faith became his reality! The Lord is faithful to those who call upon His name. He allows our faith to be tested in order that it may be purified as gold. Yet, the Lord never abandons us in our faith. He is gracious, righteous, and compassionate. This is what the Psalmist held on to. This is what allowed him to persevere in faith. And the Psalmist was not the only one who discovered this truth. Abraham also held on to the promise of God against all odds!
- “He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do.” Romans 4:18-21 CSB
This morning I am aware that so many are facing trials and difficulties that are beyond their ability and strength. It seems like everything is stacked against them and the situation is hopeless. The Psalmist, and Abraham, stand in the corner cheering us on. Faith is not denying the circumstances that we face. Faith is trusting God in the midst of our circumstances. Faith is recalling the nature and the promises of God that He has fulfilled in our lives before, and that He has fulfilled for others as they trusted in Him.
Faith is refusing to throw in the towel!
Lord, strengthen me when I am weak and am tempted to throw in the towel. Reach out with Your powerful, gracious, and compassionate hand, and uphold those who feel they are on their last thread of hope. Rise up and show Yourself mighty on behalf of the one who is in the midst of a battle they feel they cannot win. Grant us all the strength to surrender out towels to You in faith and trust! Help us to be faithful in life, and even unto death!
- “How can I repay the Lord for all the good he has done for me? I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. The death of his faithful ones is valuable in the Lord’s sight.” Psalms 116:12-15 CSB
In Jesus Name!