The promise of Jesus’ presence

For me it is interesting to note the different emphases of the various gospel writers. For instance, Mark is the shortest gospel, but when it tells stories about Jesus they are usually the longest and most lively. Matthew and Luke are longer gospels, but have shorter stories and then use that space to record more of the teaching of Jesus.

And then there is the contrast between the emphasis on the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of Luke compared to that of the Gospel of Matthew. Luke has quite a bit more material on the Spirit. Yet, having said that we have in Matthew two statements about the presence of Jesus with us that do not show up in Luke or anywhere else and have to do with what we understand to be the work of the Spirit, that is, making Jesus present to us.

I want us to look at these –

Promises of Jesus’ presence

 – from the Gospel of Matthew this morning because I believe they have a word to speak to us today.

The first one is found in 1. Matthew 18:20. Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

 The broader context of this verse is found in vs. 15-19, talking about faithfulness and unfaithfulness among believers and forgiveness or discipline. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

And then comes the promise, our focus, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

And then exactly ten chapters later, from the very last words of the gospel comes the second example. 2. Matthew 28:20. Jesus says, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”

 This comes after his resurrection and as he commissions his disciples to carry out his task to preach the gospel to all nations  vs. 18-19 – “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.’”

And then comes the promise, our focus, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Let me share first of all –

Four quick notes on both of these promises

 1. Both are given to the community of believers

  • In Matthew 18:20 the “two or three,” are gathered in his name and are thus functioning as a church body; a gathering of believers.
  • In Matthew 28:20 the context is the commission Jesus has just given to his church as a whole.

Jesus promises his presence in our midst as we gather as his people. This isn’t to say that Jesus isn’t present with us as individuals. It just means that there is a special promise here of Jesus’ presence for us as a community of believers.

2. Both have to do with us doing the work of Jesus

  • In Matthew 18:20 the work is internal to the church community; church discipline as vs. 15-19 talk about. We are carrying on his work of shepherding the flock.
  • In Matthew 28:20 the work is external to the church; connecting with and bringing new people into the community. We are completing his work of preaching, discipling and baptizing.

Jesus promises to be with us as we gather to do his work. Now, this doesn’t mean that Jesus isn’t present with us as we gather for other things, like hanging out as friends and so forth. But the focus of these promises has to do with doing his kingdom work.

3. The work in both has to do with faithfulness to Jesus

  • Matthew 18:20 is about dealing with issues of faithfulness in our midst. Working with believers who struggle and fail. Working with those who want to move forward in faith and forgiveness and those who don’t. And accountability to their baptismal commitments when they don’t.
  • Matthew 28:20 is about discipling new Christians. Teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded. Making their baptismal commitments in the first place and committing to be accountable to this.

Both have to do with one’s place in the community. Matthew 28:20 with entrance into the community through baptism and the commitment to faithfulness that this is. And Matthew 18:20 has to do with possible exit from the church around issues of unfaithfulness.

Jesus promises to be with us as we call each other and all people to faithfulness to Jesus.

Finally, I would say that 4. Both have to do with very difficult situations

  • Matthew 18:20 is about calling people to change. Calling them to move from failure, broken relationships, hurt and pain to restoration. These situations usually test relationships within the church – our ability to accept leadership, our willingness to hold each other accountable and our ability to forgive. I’ve been involved in these settings both in private contexts and also public ones. They can be both complicated and painful.
  • Matthew 28:20 is about calling people to change as well. We all those coming to Christ to confess failures and sins and to deal with them in preparation for baptism. I remember one woman who was in a baptism class who said, after hearing Scriptural teaching on sexual purity, that she was not ready to give up her practices. The honesty was refreshing, but it did eventually lead to her leaving the congregation.

So, why these promises?

Why do these unique promises of Jesus’ presence show up in these contexts? Why does he promise to be with us:

  • as we gather as a church
  • as we do his work
  • as we work at core issues of faithfulness
  • as we work in what can be difficult situations?

Why? He promises to be with us to help us. It is his work after all. And he knows our frailties and weaknesses. He promises to be with us to guide us and empower us to do the work of the kingdom.

These promises are just like so many that are found in the Old Testament:

  • For instance, to Moses in Exodus 3:12. After Moses tells God why he shouldn’t be the one to go to Pharaoh – all his weaknesses, God says, “but I will be with you.” His presence is with Moses to help him do what God called him to do.
  • Another example comes from the story of Joshua in Joshua 1:5. The task God gave Joshua, to conquer the promised land was surely difficult. And so God says, “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” His presence is with Jeremiah to help him do what God had called him to do.
  • And then finally we have the example of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:8. He thought himself too young, that he couldn’t talk well, that there would be opposition. And so God says, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” His presence is with Jeremiah to help him do what God called him to do.

In the same way Jesus promises he is present with us so that he can help us:

  • as we gather as his people
  • to do his work
  • to call people to faithfulness
  • even when it is really hard.

An encouragement

Having said all this, I think we can say with confidence that Jesus’ promises apply to what we are doing here today; both now in our worship and next in our congregational meeting. Jesus is present with us to help us – to lead and empower us.

  • As we gather as his people
  • As we seek to do his work – and ask – ‘What is God’s will for the work in this place?’
  • As we work at faithfulness and ask, ‘What does it mean to be faithful in our situation?’
  • He is with us, even though it is hard to ask these questions.

Let us give thanks for his presence, and let us tune in to him, so that we may receive his help.

Listening for the Spirit (#2)

We are seeking the Lord’s guidance as a congregation and will be coming together for a meeting next week after church. As a part of our preparation I shared last week on Listening for the Spirit – to help us know what this means and how to do it. We are continuing on with this theme today.

Last time I made the point that it’s normal for believers to be led by the Spirit of God. As Paul says in Romans 8:14, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (children) of God.” This is simply a part of being in relationship with God.

And we also looked at the most common way the Spirit leads us, which is the inward witness of the Spirit. This is when the Spirit doesn’t necessarily speak words, but gives us a deep inner sense of things that goes beyond words; an affirmation or a conviction that teaches and guides us in the way to go.

Today we want to go further on the topic of the Spirit’s leading, and first we look at –

How to receive God’s leading

 That is, how do we get ourselves in a place to hear what God might want to say to us?

First and most basically, listen. If you want to hear what anyone has to say, you have to stop and listen. And the same is true in our relationship with God.

Much of our praying is about talking to or even at God with our needs. Among other things, we also need to have intentional times of listening, where we invite God to speak to us.

We can follow the pattern of Eli’s advice, when he told Samuel to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears” – 1 Samuel 3:9. Open your heart to be led, and see what God’s leading might be. God doesn’t always have something specific to say to us, but sometimes he does.

Now the bigger goal is to have a life that is tuned in to God, so that we are always attentive to God’s leading. But certainly we begin by making space in our times of prayer to allow God to speak.

Second, walk in the light you already have.  All of us stumble in many ways, as James says (3:2), but this is different from continuing to walk in known patterns of sin. Where we know God’s will and leading and just choose not to do it.

There is no reason to think that God will say more to you if you haven’t dealt with what he has already told you; what you already know and are choosing not to do. Such sin creates a barrier between us and God (Isaiah 59:2). It damages or even destroys our relationship with God. So set aside your sin and come back close to God once again. As James says, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” – James 4:8.

John teaches us that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9. God’s mercy is wonderful to us. And then it will be true what John says in 1 John 1:7, “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another . . ..” Fellowship means we have an unhindered relationship with God.

Make things right in your relationship to God and draw near.

And finally, submit yourself fully  to God. You may not like God’s leading. Often it is the hard way. Not always, but often. And we don’t want this. We want what is easy and comfortable.

Yet God leads those who actually want to be led; who are willing. So we have to set aside our own agenda, what we think the answer has to be, what we desire. (Not in terms of what Scripture teaches, but in the application of Scripture). Then God can lead us in his way.

Jesus models this for us in the garden of Gethsemane. When seeking God’s will and confirming the path of the cross he says, “Not what I will, but what you will” – Mark 14:36.

Humble yourself before God confessing that you don’t know everything and you really do need God to help and lead you. Remember these words from Proverbs 3:5-7 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes . . .”

And then say to God, I will do whatever you tell me. This is submission. And this is someone who is ready to be led by God. And someone that God readily leads.

Let’s take a moment to pause for prayer. Maybe you need to draw near to God; maybe you need to submit yourself to God; or maybe you are here this morning ready to listen – so invite God to lead you. We’ll take just a minute.

Next we move to the very important topic of –

How to test any leading you receive

 When you seek to be quiet before the Lord and listen, it can be hard. Maybe you have just experienced this. Our minds are often so full of things – our own thoughts, our inner list of things to do, our own emotions, our own inner voices, our own desires. And also at times wrong thoughts or voices from the evil one. There is a swirl of voices and thoughts. So it can be hard to set all this aside to truly receive God’s leading. We don’t want to accept just our own thoughts as those of God and certainly not the thoughts of the evil one.

So Scripture teaches us to test the spirits:

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 says, “Do not despise prophecies (e.g. words of the Spirit), but test everything; hold fast what is good.”
  • 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

There is a sorting process and we keep what is good. This applies to those who speak out words of the Spirit or in our own minds as we listen for the Spirit.

I would like to share with you two ways to do this and the first is that everything must be in line with Scripture; God’s Word to us. God’s written word is what tests any leading we receive. It is definitive and authoritative. So any leading that goes against it, you know it’s wrong.

Deuteronomy 13:1-4 says, “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.”

Here the test is God’s revelation through Moses talking about idolatry. This was the Bible at this time. Anything that leads away from God’s Word is wrong.

But even more specifically, everything must be in line with the New Testament and it’s witness to Jesus. John 1:17-18 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the beloved who is at the Father’s side, who has made him known.” John is teaching us here that Jesus is the full and perfect revelation of God to us. There are things that are different from Old Testament to New Testament, as we see in Matthew 5. And Jesus is the standard. He is the Word of God come in the flesh. And his life and teachings are only found in the writings of the apostolic church preserved for us in the New Testament. No leading of God will go against this.

Second, make sure you recognize the leading as God’s. From my own experience I know that God’s voice is different than my own inner voices or the voice of Satan. These others are often harsh, nagging or condemning. There is nothing redemptive about them. They either tear us down and lead us to despair or they artificially build us up and lead us to pride. They don’t lead us to God and his grace and power to be transformed.

God’s voice is firm, clear, strong, quiet, pure, from the outside of us; from outside of the swirl of voices we can hear.

How do you discern God’s voice? It comes from a lifetime of being in relationship with God. Being immersed in the Scriptures and spending time in God’s presence in prayer and worship helps equip us to know God – who God is and what God sounds like.

For instance, I am not good with identifying voices on a phone. Just a few months ago someone called me and was talking on and I had to say, “now who is this?” Awkward! But I do know by wife’s voice. There is never any doubt there. We have been in close relationship for decades. And the more time we spend with God, the more we will be confident in recognizing his leading in our hearts.

Let me just end by encouraging you to seek after God this week.

  • Put yourself in a place to hear from God
  • And then test whatever leading you might receive

And then we will gather and discern together as a group next week.

Again, our goal for our meeting is to be able to sense what God’s leading is for us as a church. Not just what we think is best – our own opinions or wisdom; not what we think the right answer should be; not what we think others want us to say – but what God is saying to us. My guess is that God will give different ones of us a piece of the puzzle, that as a community we can put together, to show us the way forward. And it may take more than one meeting.

Listening for the Spirit (#1)

As you know, we are seeking the Lord for guidance regarding our future as a congregation. And as a part of this I want to give some teaching this week and next on Listening for the Spirit – to help us know what this means and how to do it. Today, let me begin by saying that –

It’s normal to be led by the Spirit

That is, this isn’t just for certain people like leaders or “saints.” Or perhaps coming from a different direction, you might think that this is the language of those who have gone off the deep end and so you want to stay away from it. No. This is the privilege of all Christians.

It is the Spirit, after all, that gives us life in the first place, for we are born of the Spirit (John 3). But that’s not all. As believers the Spirit of God actually lives in us (Romans 8:9). So there is a closeness and a relationship. And in any relationship there has to be communication. And certainly God does seek to relate to us and guide us by his Spirit dwelling within us.

Romans 8:14 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (or children) of God.” You can see here the close connection between our relationship with God and that we are led by the Spirit.

Now the Spirit can lead us in many ways. He can give someone a word to say to the congregation, he can speak a word deep within our heart, or he can move by what I call the “inward witness” of the Spirit. This is when the Spirit doesn’t necessarily speak words, but gives us a deep inner sense of things that goes beyond words; an affirmation or a conviction that teaches and guides us in the way to go. I believe that this inward witness of the Spirit is the most common way that the Spirit leads us and so I want to focus on this today.

The inward witness of the Spirit

There are several places in Scripture where this is talked about. And the first one has to do with how the Spirit works in us to draw us to Jesus. Here we are talking about the process whereby we first became believers.

Jesus said in John 16:8, “When the Spirit comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” The Spirit speaks in the deepest part of our hearts to show us our sin, and what righteousness looks like and that judgment is coming. He shows us that Jesus is true and that he is the Savior.

This is how salvation works. We don’t just go and seek out God, God seeks us and draws us to himself by the Spirit, by this inward witness of the Spirit within us that teaches us and guides us in the right way. This is how we come to faith.

So simply to be a Christian means you have been led by the Spirit in this way. You know the inward witness of the Spirit.

Another example of the inward witness is when the Spirit affirms in us that we are a Christian. Just after talking about being led by the Spirit, Paul says this in Romans 8:15-16 – “. . . You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God . . .”

In this passage we see that first, we receive the Spirit. And what does the Spirit lead us to do? To cry out “Abba, Father,” which is an expression of our relationship with God; we confess that we are children of God. How can we do this? It’s because the Spirit “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” In other words, the Spirit affirms, deep in our hearts, that we are a child of God. And so we can cry out to God our Father.

And this is not just a one-time event when we first believe. Throughout our lives the Spirit works in us to affirm our relationship with God.

To have the assurance of the Spirit means the Spirit is leading you in this way.

Another example of the inward witness is when the Spirit guides us in everyday life. In Ephesians 4:30 Paul says, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” In context he is talking about living the Christian life; the choices we make whether to sin or walk in the way of Christ. And the point is that when we choose sin we grieve or sadden the Spirit who dwells within us, who is affirming that we should choose the way of Christ.

Unless we have become hardened and distant to the Lord this goes on in us regularly. We sense the Spirit deep in our heart either guiding and affirming our choices or convicting us that we are wrong. When we walk in the right path we have the fruit of the Spirit of peace. When we do not, the Spirit is “grieved.”

So simply to walk the Christian life means that the Spirit is, or is seeking to lead you in this way.

But the Spirit doesn’t just lead us as individuals, the Spirit can also lead us as a group; as a church. We see this in the example of the Jerusalem church council of Acts 15. The early church had a huge controversy over how to accept Gentiles as Christians and there was conflict. So the mother church in Jerusalem gathered together, along with the apostles to settle things.

They talked about the issues and heard from various ones, including the apostles Paul and Peter. And then at the end in Acts 15:28 it says, “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us . . .” and then they hand down their decision. It isn’t necessary to get into the issues or what they decided right now. The point is that they testify that the Spirit led them. We don’t know what all this might have meant, but certainly at a minimum they are saying that they feel the Spirit is affirming deep within their hearts, that their decision is right.

And this is what we are seeking as a congregation. Not just what we think is best; not what we think the answer ought to be; not what we think others want us to do – but what does God have to say to us, so that we can be confident in our decision before God and others.

Let me end with –

An encouragement

I share all this to encourage you to listen for the Spirit. As you continue to pray these next weeks and fast on Friday afternoons, listen – expecting to hear from God. What is the Spirit saying to us here at New Providence Mennonite Church? And then we will gather to pray and discern together and make some decisions. If God could lead the believers in Jerusalem in their big decision, God can certainly lead us here as well.

Second, I have shared this with you to remind you that as a Christian you already know what it’s like to be led by the Spirit; the inner witness of the Spirit. It’s not rocket science. We have all been there and we have all done that. We just need to tune in and be sensitive to listen and hear.

And if you would say, I don’t feel like I am really that in touch with the Spirit anymore, let me say it isn’t too late to get in tune with God’s Spirit and listen. And we will talk about some of this next week, Lord willing.

How long, O Lord. Psalm 13

The literary structure of  Psalm 13

Psalm 13 is really powerful; full of intense and honest struggle, but also faith. And I want to hold it up for you as a model for when you are being overwhelmed by difficult circumstances.

As we get started, a few words about –

Psalm 13

It is the shortest prayer for help in the book of Psalms. There are shorter Psalms, but these are not requests to God.

In terms of how it is put together, there are three obvious parts to this psalm.

  • In vs.  1-2 the Psalmist pours out his heart to God.
  • In vs. 3-4 he makes his request
  • And in vs. 5-6 he expresses his faith and hope in God

And each of these sections has the name of God or “Yahweh” in it, indicated in English by the capitalized “LORD.”

We don’t know the specifics of his situation, but it involves enemies and the threat of death. This is a Davidic Psalm (written by him or in honor of/about him) perhaps referring to his time in the wilderness hiding from King Saul, who was trying to kill him. Whatever the case may be he is facing a very serious situation and needs God’s help.

Let’s look at the first section, which is a cry of despair.

1How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”

There is no indication in these verses that the Psalmist has sinned or has been unfaithful so that his difficulties are the result of this. He is simply in an overwhelming time of testing and trial.

Notice the phrase “How long?” This is used several times in scriptural prayers, but this is the only place where it is repeated four times, and in such a short space. There is an intensity in this prayer in asking this question of God. These questions also show us that it’s OK to ask God questions like this. God can take it. We don’t have to put on a smile, or fake it when we come into God’s presence. After all, he already knows what we are thinking and feeling. We only need be careful that we do this with proper respect for God.

You can feel the raw emotions and the brutal honesty of this prayer as you read these two verses.

  • In relation to God the Psalmist feels abandoned and ignored by God. God has hidden his face, that is it feels like God has turned away and is not looking out for him; he feels that God has forgotten him.
  • In relation to himself he feels greatly distressed within. “Taking counsel in his soul” perhaps has to do with trying to sort out what he should do, since God doesn’t seem to be acting for him; it has to do with anxious worrying. And he has sorrow in his heart.
  • In relation to his problem , his enemy, he feels defeated. His enemy has the upper hand and this means that his life is in danger.

Also notice the time indicators, the “how long?” questions, the word “forever” and the phrase “all the day.” The sense is that he is barely hanging on. He is worn down. He is at the breaking point. The test is so hard that he can’t take it anymore. So if God doesn’t act soon, it will overwhelm him and be too late.

Next we have his request to God.

3Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’ lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.”

In general, he wants God to consider him or take note of his situation to answer him. He’s saying, ‘God, don’t forget me or hide your face from me.’ He wants God to act to bring him help him in the midst of his difficulty.

Specifically, he wants God to “light up his eyes.” In Scripture to have dim eyes means that you are overwhelmed, weak and weary (Job 17:7; Deuteronomy 34:7). And to have eyes that are lit up has to do with being strong, full of life and vigor (Deuteronomy 34:7; Ezra 9:8; Proverbs 29:13). Even today we can tell how someone is doing by their eyes, right? We can tell whether they are full of energy and life or whether they are worn down and discouraged. You can see it.

So, being worn down by his trials, he is asking God to give him strength, new life, vigor, encouragement and hope.

And he doesn’t just make his request for help, he gives God three reasons to act:

  1. lest he die, because he is in danger of death.
  2. lest his enemy win
  3. lest they rejoice at his downfall

In this situation the Psalmist understands himself to be in the right; he is doing God’s will but is being persecuted by evildoers. And so, yes, he wants to be saved and vindicated, and have his enemies put down. But it is bigger than this. He is appealing to God in all this to act for your Name’s sake. Since he is representing God and the righteous, it’s not good that evildoers think that God doesn’t care about their evil, or about the well-being of his own. He needs to act for his Name’s sake and for the sake of righteousness.

In section one the writer is hanging by a thread. In section two he is asking God to give him strength. And then we have a tremendous change of tone in vs. 5-6 where the Psalmist speaks of his faith and hope.

5But I trust in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

Two things are going on here:

1) He is given strength to trust in God. God has indeed begun to enlighten his eyes, even as he has been pouring out his heart and asking God for help. (It is healing to pour out our hearts to God.)

 Now, instead of seeing just his outward circumstances and choosing to give up, he sees God’s faithfulness; that is his “steadfast love” or “unfailing love.” This is God’s covenant love or commitment to him and his well-being. So he has his circumstances on the one hand and then God’s character and promises on the other and he chooses God. This  is called faith.

2) He now looks forward to God’s salvation; for deliverance from his trial and testing. We know he is not yet delivered because his salvation and rejoicing is spoken of as a future reality. But he can now move forward in faith and hope that God will save him, since his faith has been renewed.

  • Even though he may still have some “sorrow in (his) my heart,” – v. 2, now that his faith has been renewed he can look forward to when “(his) my heart shall rejoice” – v. 5.
  • Even though his enemies are exalted “over (him) me” – v. 2, now that his faith has been renewed he can look forward to when God will have dealt bountifully “with (him) me” – v. 6.
  • Even though his enemies are “exalted” – v. 2 over him and seek to “rejoice” – v. 4 at his demise, now that his faith has been renewed he can look forward to when he “shall rejoice – v. 6 in God’s salvation.

And this will not just be a minor thing. God will “bountifully” deliver and save him.

Finally, I want you to look at –

Psalm 13 as a model prayer

It is a model for when you find yourself in times of testing and are ready to give up. Follow the threefold pattern we find here:

1. Pour out your heart to God. Be honest with God. Express your emotions to God – about how distant he seems; about how you are in inner turmoil; about how your problem has the upper hand. And ask God questions, What’s going on? Why, God? Or as here, how long?God, I’m barely hanging on.

2. Ask God for strength. God, enlighten my eyes. Give me renewed life, vigor, vitality and encouragement. And tell him why; so you don’t give in and fail in time of trial and thus dishonor his Name; so that others will see and know that God is faithful to his own and upholds righteousness.

And then, 3. Receive renewed trust in God to make it through. Let God work a work in you as you pour out your heart and as you make your request known and as you think of his unfailing love for you and commitment to you.

Receive the strength to choose to trust in God and stand on his character and promises despite your difficult circumstances. And having been renewed, look forward to God’s salvation; deliverance from your trial when you will rejoice and sing praises to God.