Who came in third in the Stanley Cup last year? Who was picked third in the NHL draft that just happened? Who was the third Prime Minister of Canada? You may know the answer to some of those questions, but we tend to forget third place finishes. It is good enough for Bronze in the Olympics, but usually we focus on the winner, and the loser of the championship. Next Saturday you will know who takes third place at the World Cup. When was the last time you read Psalm 3 (before today)? Here we have tucked away a nifty little Psalm of David, just 8 verses long. Let’s spend a few minutes with it today.
Hopeless: Have you ever felt alone – really alone? Most people have an understanding that that life is not all roses – there is a struggle that occurs. In spite of the wealth of our nation, there are many people struggling financially and relationally. There is an area on the west side of the city in Confederation Park that contains subsidized housing for families. It is also unfortunately in the middle of a low spot in that area. For the 7th time in the last ten years their basements have been flooded out. Did you see the picture in the paper where the water was gushing up and out of the manholes? So here we have those with low income struggling with all the stuff of life and having consistent issues of flooding on top of it all. Where is the help? The justice? The enemy sets himself against us, and starts with the proclamation that there is no hope. For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun? Solomon waxed long on the futility of life. What are your futilities? What are the things in life that seem to be set against you? Where do you feel pressure?
Let’s take a minute and pray for those points of stress. Tell your Creator of your struggles.
Often life cycles through seasons that we in Canada know so well. Storms come, and bad ones, but when you look at the bigger picture you know sunshine is coming in its own time. Potential sunshine doesn’t always make the day better, when hail and damaging winds is what the present is about. What strikes me about this Psalm is that David’s antagonists threaten to overwhelm him. It starts like the small leak in the dam. As water begins to push through, erosion steps in and the small leak quickly becomes a raging torrent. Sometimes we set ourselves up for it. We get so stretched out in life, so thin because we are so busy and so involved, that when the problems start we are set up like dominoes ready to fall with a single push. There is a lesson here for you and I to slow down, to focus, to put down deep roots so that in times of storms and drought we are able to stand firm.
It’s not about the 10,000, but about the 1. Add insult to injury. Not only are there all these problems, but they come from places unexpected, from places we thought were firm and sound. David is king and has a big family, but his son Absalom rebels (2 Samuel 15 – 17). I understand how hard it is to face the vast enemy that is our there, but when it comes from the person beside you, it can knock the wind out of you. I could face a lot of opposition, a lot of difficulties, as long as Bonnie is with me. What would I do if one day she woke up and decided she wanted something different, someone different. I can’t ell you how devastating that would be. This is the danger of vulnerability.
People go through life with arms across their chest. They refuse to open them up because of some hurt they experienced in the past. The wounds they have stay open and fresh. They cannot move past them as there has been no significant healing. The power of life is given to those wounds, so that we are no longer free, no longer ourselves. You see it when people follow in the footsteps of an alcoholic parent, when the child who swore he would never be like the parent becomes a mirror image. Don Francisco has a song called the Walking Wounded, about a woman carrying with her wounds of life, and not letting the God who made her heal them. Sometimes we find comfort in the familiarity of our wounds. Unfortunately we will never quite see how much we are missing of the life God has for us when we hang on to them. Are you wounded? Is there things in your life you need to let go of and let God heal? Let’s take a minute and pray for this.
God will answer. And in the rest of this Psalm we see David’s confidence in God. Where the world was saying there is no deliverance for him, David was saying that deliverance belongs to the Lord. He understood that God was in control. His testimony is awesome. He had very little Scripture. There were a few prophets in the country that spoke God’s words. But here he is in exile while his son usurps his throne – with a battle eminent that will take the lives of many people. And David wasn’t perfect. Part of the consequence of his sin was that the sword would not leave his family, and here he was living it out.
And what of your life? What are you trusting God to answer for you in your life? I am trusting God for much in terms of this church. I expect us to grow, to see people introduced to Jesus. I am trusting that God will increase our ministry to many different places and in many different ways. As a church we have things set against us. It may be age, it may be the financial base, it may be things in our past, it may be lack of programs or the wrong program, it may be location, it may be lack of kids, it may be anything and everything – I have heard a lot. But God is bigger than all of that. He used 12 men to start a new movement. He has promised that He has plans for us, and has proven it by works He has done in our midst, in our lives. Be encouraged, for the Lord has announced freedom, the Year of Jubilee for us. Take to heart what God is saying to us. As we move into summer let me read this Psalm again in the sense it is written for us, for our church: