Psalm 43 Five Things To Consider In A Trial And When You Have Questions Only God Can Answer. Funeral
In John 11 Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died. When Jesus arrived he had already been in the grave for four days. He visits with Lazarus’ sisters and comforts them even though they could not quite understand and grasp all of the things that Jesus was comforting them with.
Jesus said to one of the sisters, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
Martha then invites Mary to come to see Jesus. When she received the invitation she quickly came to Him. She was surrounded by many friends and family members who were consoling her. When she saw Jesus she fell at His feet, saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled...Jesus wept.
The people reacted in two different ways at Jesus’ tears. Some Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some others said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?’
May it bring some comfort to your hearts today to remember that Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. Jesus knows the grief that you are feeling here today. Jesus also wept because the people could not fully appreciate the eternal life that Jesus came to offer people.
Our great comfort today, even as we gather on such a sad occasion, is that Jesus Christ our Risen Lord has said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
Jesus knows how to comfort those who are grieving. Jesus knows how to answer the question that is on all of our minds as we gather today. Many of us are asking, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?’
We also know that your son is now enjoying the comfort of being with Jesus. One author has written these words, “One great comfort will be to believe that the best arrangement is made for everything connected with our death. Not arrangement by ourselves, or any near and dear to us; but by the One who from the beginning has arranged all things. He who has ordered the movements of all the heavenly bodies, and the relationships of all earthy things-times and seasons, summer and winter, cloud and sunshine-He who is so active in all things connected to life, is equally active in all things connected with what we call death.”
The promise of eternal life is the same hope that David had when his son died in 2 Samuel 12:23. David said, “Now my child is dead...Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
This past week you said goodbye to your son but it is not a permanent goodbye. You are trusting in the fact that Jesus is the Resurrection and the life. You believe that Jesus died according to what the Scriptures had prophesied and that He was also raised from the dead according to the Scriptures. Because Jesus lives, there is hope for all those who in faith have fallen asleep in Christ.
1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Peter is speaking about God’s great mercy that is offered to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a life in perfect obedience to the Father’s will. Jesus also submitted His will to the Father’s when He suffered, died and was resurrected from the dead.
Because of this, those who put their faith and trust in Him alone for their righteousness and for their salvation are guaranteed an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for believers. However, at this present time you and I will experience trials and grievous sufferings. Our faith is tested by these things but it will all result in praise and glory and honor when Christ is revealed.
I read this passage, because I want you to find encouragement from these inspired words. In times of suffering it becomes even harder for you to see the Lord and to know what He may be doing through these things.
I would like to go to a text that may help you to navigate the days ahead as you walk through this trial. The words of the psalmist will help to provide for you a pathway that you can engage in that will lead you to the right destination. It will help you to go through this moment and end up with a stronger faith and trust in God; rather than, a weak and wandering faith.
As I visited with you on the morning that little Zachery went to be with the LORD, you had lots of questions that you were asking: What did we not see? What could we have done differently?
We know that you will have some questions to ask of the LORD in the coming days. You will find yourself asking Him questions that only He will be able to answer. One day Abby and Lucas will be asking these questions of God when they are older.
The text is found in Psalm 43.
The book of Psalms is wonderful because it sanctifies so many of the emotions that you and I will experience throughout life. The psalms give voice to the powerful emotions in life and they sanctify them in a way that honors the LORD. They speak of our times of great joy, and they give voice to our deepest sorrows; it speaks of great love, and also times of hatred; times of great expectation, and times of hopelessness.
Not only does the book of Psalms sanctify our emotions, but it also sanctifies the questions that we have at times in our life. Here, the psalmist asks two questions. The first question reveals that believes he has been rejected and abandoned by God. He also asks a question that reveals that this trial has gone on for quite some time and he wonders why he must go on mourning because of the oppression of the enemy.
Verse two gives us the questions that he asks of the LORD. First, he asks, “You are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me?” Then he asks, “Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
Questions like this are hard enough for us to grapple with but consider some other things that the psalmist speaks of in this Psalm. He admits in this psalm that his soul is depressed and he is in turmoil (5). He says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, why are you in turmoil within me?”
We also see that his hope in God is fading and he is finding it hard to praise Him (5).
I would imagine that in the coming days, if not already, you will find yourself identifying with many of the things that I just described to you.
This trial will not end for you today.
You are going to have significant questions that you will ask God to answer.
You will feel rejected, depressed and your soul will experience turmoil.
Your hope in God will be tested and it may be hard to praise the LORD.
Let me briefly share with you from this psalm some things that the psalmist determined to do so that he would be able to weather this storm and have a strong faith and a heart that would praise God.
First, after asking these questions he immediately says in Psalm 43:3, “Send out your light and your truth...”
The psalmist knows that the answers to these questions can only be answered by God. These answers cannot be found in the realm of our feelings and subjective truth. These answers must come through the objective truth and light that only only the LORD can reveal.
If we think and walk according to our feelings we will not end up in the right place. Like the psalmist, in the coming days you will need to pray that God will give to you light and the truth to guide you.
God can give us light and truth in many ways.
Sometimes God may uses other godly people to provide this to you.
He will use His Word to give this to you.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit will give this to you and remind you of what you need.
Typically, it will be given a little bit at a time so be patient in this process. Hold on to these things that He gives to you and be ministered by them often. Ponder the truth you have been given in your heart and treasure them when you need the grace the most. They don’t get old and lose their comfort.
Secondly, if you are going to weather this storm determine today where you want to end up. The psalmist did not want to drift away from the LORD and so he determined where he wanted to end up. We read, “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling”.
God’s truth and light will lead us to God’s holy hill and to His dwelling. Remember the old saying of Dorthy in the Wizard of Oz, “There is no place like home.” This is even more true of our heavenly home and as pilgrims here in this world we often remember that there is no place like our heavenly home.
Jesus comforted His disciples in John 14:1-3 when he said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Thirdly, the psalmist determined even in these conditions that God would be his exceeding joy. He says, “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God my God.”
It is so natural to keep our eyes on the things going on in the trial and the circumstances that we are experiencing here. But let the focus of your attention be similar to the Psalmist in Psalm 123 when he says, “To you I life up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!”
Fourthly, the psalmist spoke the gospel to himself. The psalmist challenged his own soul to Hope in God. We need the comfort of others during these times. The encouragement and support of our friends and family is a vital aspect of how God comforts us. But it is also important how we will begin to speak to ourselves the truth that we need to hear. The Psalmist says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God…”
Finally, the psalmist determines in the midst of this trial that God was his salvation and his God. When he was the most desperate and the most depressed he recommitted himself to trust in the LORD. He probably had to do this again and again. He says, “...for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
There was a season in my life where I found myself in a trial with questions, I was depressed, and I was confused. I remember every day having to say over and over again, “I will again praise Him, my salvation and my God!”
In the coming days and months you may get tired of having to preach to yourself like this. So let me remind you today that it is not us who hold onto God but He who holds on to us.
John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
I had mentioned earlier that Mary and Martha could not really grasp Jesus’ comfort in the time of their grief. But let me be clear about one thing. In grief and suffering we struggle with understanding things. At first it seems like grief and suffering will forever blind us from the light and truth of God. However, the opposite is true. In is through grief and suffering that we are given the assurance and the promise that we will see these things as a result!