– Escape. It sounds exotic and enticing as giving extreme ecstasy. It comes from the desire to get away from all the stress, craziness, pain or sadness and people trying to control you. Well, the reality is everyone faces these issues and how we respond will define the course of our life.
– Escape seldom solves situations. God made us for relationships not isolation and escape. As much as relationships hurt, it hurts more to be alone. Both our deepest happiness and are darkest hurts come from relationships. The point of relationships is that both our pleasures and pains are to remind us of our separation from God.
– C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves,
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
In Psalm 55, David bares his soul before God from experiencing hurt and betrayal.
David prays with plainness (55:1-3).
He boldly approaches God to listen, pay attention and answer. In his prayer he is honest and vulnerable. He says he is restless (overcome and distraught), and experiencing harassment. His perspective is as one sitting under the expected fall of an avalanche.
God can handle our darkness. God wants to hear our hurts and heartaches. He understands sadness and suffering. Jesus endured all these.
“For we do not have a [God] who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:7-10
—> Pray without filter. Those who pray with a filter their prayers are limited, superficial and safe. Dare to let God hear everything and trust He cares and is bringing about His purposes in your life.
David flees with fear (55:4-8).
David is feeling isolated and backed into a corner of loneliness and lament. His hurt is tempting him to tire from the fight. Fear has overwhelmed him to the point of considering escape through death. “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” David thought freedom could be achieved by fantasizing escape and a life without consequences.
Fear is a powerful and gripping emotion that can control your life. It makes you raise questions like
“Why bother?” “Is it worth all the trouble?” “Why shouldn’t I give up?”
– Could be a husband considering this about his wife
– Could be a teenager considering this about school
– Could be a church member considering this about church, SS class, ministry leader
– Could be a friend considering this about life
People often flee with fear because feelings and emotions have become larger than reality. Someone once said that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. Perceptions of people or circumstances can be misguided by our fears because we have misplaced someone or something as larger/greater than God. When we prioritize our selfish desires, others acceptance or seek easy circumstances over obeying and trusting God then we will flee… and we will sin. Much of David’s anguish and flight can be traced back to poor choices and wrongful previous priorities. When the forces of the wind have been set in motion we should be prepared to reap the whirlwind.
—> What is your greatest fear? Has this become an idol?
—> Ask a friend for prayer support but also invite them for honest evaluation and counsel.
Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but an enemy multiplies kisses”
David fights with faith (55:9-23).
David continues the psalm showing his bitterness and anger at the actions of others (v.9-15). He sees wickedness, violence, strife, lies and the evil faults of others. He is obviously hurt and it appears deeply personal (v. 13-14). But, as he writes he realizes that he cannot control the actions of others. One thing he can control is his response.
“But I call to God, and the Lord saves me.” David’s faith in God kept him going. He realized that he did not need escape but elevation. Life is filled with peaks and valleys. Life in the valley is rarely desirable. However, in the valley all you have to do is look up to see the beauty. It is a choice. You can choose to look down or around at the valley; or you can choose to look above at the God who is in control and “enthroned forever” (v.19). Fear causes you to be depressed and look down. Faith calls you to joy and to look up.
God’s goal for you is not removal but circumstances but strength to sustain through them. “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (v.22). The point is faith is a journey constantly teaching us we cannot do it alone. Faith is not an abstract doctrine to only believe but it is a Person to receive in your life. God promises to be with you and gives sustaining grace through all circumstances. His goal is not your happiness but your holiness which predominantly comes about through the presence of adversity. In this realization David prayed with confidence in God’s promise to save and continuity in life (v.17).
Do you feel like David? Is your fantasy to flee and escape your circumstances? Could it be that your sin has finally caught up with you? Perhaps it is now time to face the real issue – that God does not want to change your circumstances but he wants to change you! Even if your difficult circumstances are not a consequence of previous sin, God still wants to bring about a change in your faith and character.
Fight with Faith
- Cherish your forgiveness and Guard against unforgiveness
“if you do not forgive others their sins, neither will your Father forgive your sins” Mt 6:15
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph 4:32
- Trust God’s sovereign story to bring about His purposes
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all…never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God…Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” Rom 12:17 – 20
- Remember, the goal is not our comfort but our Christ-likeness.
Romans 8:28-29 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…”