Jump Start # 2012
Psalms 34:8 “O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”
Our congregation picks out a theme each year. All of our classes, our special meetings, our VBS and many of our sermons revolve around that central theme. This year it’s “Good news for tough times.” Tough times isn’t anything that’s new. All through the Scriptures we read about tough times. Famines and wars, persecution and oppression, prisons and fiery furnaces threated the people of God. And tough times is something that has been felt by many of us. Heartache, pain and disappointment are all too common for many homes.
I’ve been reading a little diary that my grandmother wrote. It’s worn, hard to read and her spelling makes it difficult to know just what she was talking about. My dad gave this to me with the hopes that I would transcribe it and we could have it for others in the family. So, I’ve been working my way through her daily entries. In March 1933, my grandma was 31 years old, married and had the two sons that she would have. She wrote on Monday March 6, “Monday morning and eggs are 8 cents and all of the banks are closed in the state. I don’t know what will happen next.” Just two months earlier, in January, she reported that eggs were selling for 23 cents. The bottom seemed to drop out. It was the depression. My grandparents were simple, country people. They were poor people. They had their vegetable garden and didn’t have to stand in soup lines like many people in the city did. That one line stood out for me, “I don’t know what will happen next.”
That probably has been repeated by many people. They guy who loses his job and has a mortgage and a family, “I don’t know what will happen next.” The woman who buries her husband and leaves the cemetery thinking, “I don’t know what will happen next.” Or, it could be the person who sits in the doctors office and hears the word, “Cancer.” “What will happen next,” he wonders. Tough times. Troublesome times. What will happen next?
I wonder, reading ‘what will happen next’, if that thought caused my grandma to lay awake at night. I wonder if her prayers were more fervent. Somehow she got through this. When I knew her, I was young and she was old. We didn’t get to have deep conversations about “what happened next.” But she was a Christian, a believer. Her faith, more than anything else is what got her through.
Our verse today is a great reminder for us when we do not know what will happen next. Four thoughts can be found in this amazing passage from Heaven.
First, God is good. What a great declaration. He is good. He gives good gifts. He sends blessings from Heaven. God does not delight in trouble. Death is His enemy, not His friend. Too many begin on the wrong foot with God. They start with the premise that God is mean or evil. They blame all the bad stuff on God. He’s not the one to point our finger at. It’s Satan who is wrong. It’s Satan who confuses us and causes us to blame a good God for things He never did. God is good.
Second, the Psalmist knew that God was good. He knew because he had tasted. Tasting God is an expression found in both the O.T. and the N.T. We can be like kids at the kitchen table. If they see something that they never had before, the first thing that they will do is to turn their nose up at it. Give it a try, mamma pleads. If it’s a veggie some won’t like it. If it’s green even more won’t like it. But how can one say that they don’t like it until they have tried it? How many are opposed to the Bible who have never read it? They have heard what others said, and based on that, they have turned their noses up at it. Or, they have had a bad experience with someone who wasn’t very serious as a Christian. Maybe the Christian was judgmental or offensive. The person assumes all Christians are like this. They are not. Jesus wasn’t.
How does one taste God? Try Him. Give Him a serious try. Not just two seconds. Find a congregation that is serious about following the Bible. Give them a try. Spend a hour in the gospel of Mark. Just an hour. Impressive. Remarkable. Amazing.
God is good because the Psalmist knew that. Do you know that?
Third, there is refuge in God. The word refuge means shelter. In a storm you try to find cover. What you find is a refuge. I was caught in a downpour last summer. I went from store overhang to the next store overhang. Refuge. We remember the “cities of refuge,” from the O.T. If someone accidently killed another person, they could beat it to one of the six cities of refuge and be safe there. If they left, the deceased family could get justice against them. Refuge.
In tough times, God is our refuge. He’s the one that brings comfort. So Paul said to the Thessalonians when talking about the death of Christians. “Comfort one another with these words,” is how Paul ended that section. A refuge. A place of shelter. A place of protection against the storm. The Scriptures are just that. They are a place of comfort. They are a place of shelter. Prayer is like that. We pour our hearts out to God, often filled with fear, fright and worry. We don’t know what will happen next. For my poor grandma, the price of eggs had fallen, the banks were closed and from history we know that it would take a World War to pull the nation together and out of that long depression.
When outside and a rain storm comes up, we run inside. When storms of life come, we run to God. He is good. He is our refuge. He will help. He will shelter us.
Fourth, the one who takes refuge in God will be blessed. He will find security, hope and life with God. The storms are intense, but greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. Blessed because he turned to God. Blessed because he knew that God knows what will happen next. Blessed because he trusts God. Blessed because he knows that God is good.
My dear grandma wrote in 1946, “My, six years have gone by since I wrote, and what sad and troublesome years these have been. One of the awfulist war’s of my life. They took almost all of our boys around here, but thanks to the good Lord He sent them all back that is close to home except two.” Both of my grandma’s boys, one being my dad, were in that war. Tough times. Troublesome times. God is our refuge.
I tend to think every generation could write their own diary of tough times. Some barely make it though. Some don’t make it. Others seem to get along well. I never heard my grandma speak of those days. She found refuge in a God that loved her and saw that she trusted and believed in Him.
My troubles seem like nothing when I read her diary. It makes me think I complain too much and I have it too easy. I don’t know what I would do if all my boys were off in a war. I’d cry a lot. I’d pray more. I’d find refuge in God.
My sweet grandma got to hear me preach a few times before she left this world. I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful that her troubles are over. Someday ours will be as well, if we trust, walk and believe in the Lord.
Indeed, God is good.