I have begun this new year with a good deal of caution, nothing like the excitement I felt as 2020 started out. Who knew? By the time we came to the end of last year, many, if not most of us, were extremely glad to have it be in our rear view mirror. But here we go, only one week into 2021 and I’m already remembering the good old days of last year. (Well, not really). But I’ve learned one thing: our hope for what we might call a good year cannot depend on politics, entertainment, sports or our comfort. Instead, I believe it can only be found “in the Lord.” Look with me at a few verses from Psalm 37 which give us some light for treading out further into the unknown of the year ahead. The Lord is the key!
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture,” (verse 3). To trust in the Lord means that we put all of our weight onto something, believing fully that it will support us. Proverbs 3:5-6 come to mind here, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” As Tony Evans comments in his Study Bible, “He’ll remove obstacles and even cut a path through the woods.”
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart,” (verse 4). Be careful here! Don’t jump to the end of the verse first (where sometimes we’d rather focus). Unfortunately, we often spend way too much time thinking about and planning how to obtain “the desires of our heart,” getting everything we really want in life. Rather, we need to learn what it means to delight ourselves in the Lord. To me that means drawing near to him, enjoying time spent in his presence—reading his Word, prayer, worship and fellowship with his people. When that begins to happen, we’ll find that his desires (plans, purposes) will become our desires.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun,” (verses 5-6). What does that mean? It means to commit all that happens in your life to him, even the unkind and mean things people have done to you, or said about you (including on Facebook), because God will act on your behalf and exonerate you. Trust him!
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret…” (verse 7). God is at work, not only in the events of this world (like storms, pandemics, and elections), but also in the circumstances and trials we face each day (including the loneliness, discouragement, financial stress, or illness you may be facing). As the Lord says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God!” He is in control. He’s with us and will never, ever forsake us.
“Wait for the Lord and keep his way,” (verse 34). His timing is always perfect. He’s never late in keeping his promises. He always does what is best—for us, and for his glory. Remember, “the best is yet to come.”As we wait for Him, may we begin to realize that He may be waiting for us to trust him, to delight ourselves in him, to commit our way to him, to be still before him and to wait for him—so that he might show himself strong on our behalf. The Lord is the key!
Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing [email protected]. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.