Focus on God
By Steph Nickel
With all the pain and suffering in this world, it’s easy to become discouraged. Steph Nickel reminds us to keep our focus on God, and rest assured that He can be trusted, even when times are rough
Change of Focus
Psalm 10:12-18 says, “Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, ‘You will not call to account’? But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none. The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”
In the last post, I discussed the characteristics and behaviour of the wicked, arrogant individual who renounces the Lord and denies His existence. Thankfully, the psalmist didn’t stop there or Psalm 10 would be very discouraging. As he often does, the psalmist has a change of focus.
It’s easy to become discouraged when hateful, self-centred individuals seem to have the upper hand—and it doesn’t take very long to come to that conclusion when we look around at all the heartache and tragedy in the world today. And when that heartache and tragedy affects us personally . . . Well, then it’s even harder.
Many of the psalms in the Bible were written by King David and he knew what it was like to suffer unbelievable hardships. He knew what it was like to be discouraged. There were times he was convinced that those who were evil and had no regard for God or others would always come out ahead. King David lost family and friends. He was even chastened by God’s prophet Nathan. He did not have an easy life by any means.
Be Confident in God
Psalms 9 and 11 were written by David. Psalm 10 may have been as well. Regardless, the psalmist chose to turn his attention to the Lord. He prayed that God would get involved, that He would not forget the afflicted.The psalmist affirmed that God did, indeed, see the actions of the wicked.
He declared that the helpless could commit themselves to the Lord, confident of His care, concern, and compassion. The writer of this psalm prayed that God would get the evildoer’s attention and call his wickedness to account. He acknowledged that though it often looked like the wicked would not be defeated, the Lord was, indeed, king forever and ever. After all, eventually even the nations perish. He goes on to affirm that the Lord Himself takes up the cause of the fatherless and the oppressed, those who have no one else to fight for them.
This is a wonderful psalm to discuss during family devotions. Mind you, it would be best to wait until your children are a little older, possibly in their teens. However, the portion we read today, verses 12-18, could be shared with younger ones as well. (It’s always a good idea to read the scripture passage ahead of time before sharing it with your children. Young children and particularly sensitive individuals may struggle with certain portions of the Bible. While we never want to mislead them, we do want to share truths in an age-appropriate way.)
Staying Focused on God
Like the psalmist, we can discuss people and situations that make us uncomfortable, nervous, or scared. We should be honest about how we feel, especially within the safety of our family unit. (I know that not all families are safe places. If yours is not, I encourage you to seek help from a trusted friend or professional.)
While openness and honesty are good, if we continue to focus on the negative, we will only become discouraged, believing things will never get better. We must turn our attention to the Lord and affirm the truths we learn about Him from His Word. This is so much more than wishful thinking or the power of positive thinking. After all, Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Sometimes our circumstances don’t change. Sometimes the bully is still the bully. Sometimes—most times actually—world news is about one tragedy after another. But God is still God. And He is good. He is in control and ultimately, things will work out according to His plans and purposes. We must divert our attention to these truths and rest in the assurance that God can be trusted.
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Images courtesy of:
Young Man- Brenkee
Watercolour Portrait- BackJunSung
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