I get crabby.
Over the last week or so, I’ve had kind of a stomach problem and a kink in my back, basically from being fat and out of shape.
Regardless of why it’s happening, I’m surprised how quickly it can cause me to be irritable, hasty, frustrated, and angry.
It’s not just that I get crabby, it’s that my crabbiness and shortness comes out worst to the ones I love most. The ones I’m usually irritable with are my spouse, my kids, and my friends or family.
I’m reminded, only through reading the Bible and prayer, how thin-skinned I am when it comes to adversity. What’s concerning to me is that my fragility concerning adversity is shown through unbiblical emotions, words, and attitudes.
Think of how silly it must look to the martyrs of old, the truly poor, the starving, the impoverished, and to Jesus, to see me get crabby because I’m tired from insomnia or crabby because I have a belly ache probably associated with over-eating.
I get crabby for the stupidest reasons, and I think that “I’m really tired,” somehow justifies my unkind behavior.
Adversity can often make us lash out in sinful ways.
I was just reading Psalm 22, when the writer is crying out to God, and begging God to save him from the intense adversity he’s facing. The writer makes the case that he’s trusted in God since birth, that he’s been just like the ancient Israelites who were rescued, and then tells the Lord how depleted he is.
You read this, and wonder what David (or the author) was going through, but then you get to verse 17 and 18, and realize that this is a prophetic verse that’s talking not only about the situation the original author was in, but it was also a messianic prophecy and it’s the situation which Jesus would eventually be in.
In other words – this is how JESUS responded to adversity.
How does the writer, and Jesus, respond to the adversity that’s come to them?
Here are 7 Responses to Adversity that we see in in Psalms 22:19-25
7 Responses to Adversity Found in Psalm 22:19-21
1 – Plead with the Lord and call out to him – with your truest voice. Ps 22:19-21
The most basic steps of faith we can show, is to ask God for help, plead with Him to intervene, and make our requests known to Him.
“O Lord, do not say far away! You are my strength, come quickly to my aid! Save me from the sword; spare my precious life from these dogs. Snatch me from the lion’s jaws and from the horns of the wild oxen (his enemies).”
The first response is to ask for what you want! Jesus taught us when He was with His disciples, that if we “ask anything in His name, you will receive it.” Matthew 18:19; Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24; John 14:13; John 15:7
If we claim to have faith in Christ, we MUST be in constant dialogue with Him.
When adversity strikes, we need to call in the forces through prayer. Let your requests and needs be known to Him, cast your cares upon Him and He will sustain you!
But what gets in the way? Why do we often neglect the most basic part of faith – requesting God’s help?
For me, it’s the “white noise” of modern life that keeps me from having a mind that meditates on the way of the Lord.
Facebook, internet memes, Youtube, entrepreneurship, family, kids, a messy house, and a host of other things keep my mind in a “neutral position,” and less likely to dialogue with the Lord.
In Psalms 19:14, we are taught how our mindset and spirit should be throughout the day
“may the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be pleasing to you O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
Our frantic and distracting world can make it difficult for us to meditate upon the Lord, and ensure the words of our mouth are pleasuing to Him.
I’ve found that Praying, then reading the bible, then writing something out about what I read, helps a great deal to focus me throughout the day. But then again, I’m an entrepreneur and have the leisure of making my own schedule.
When I snap myself out of the nonsense things, and focus on God’s word, His story, His plan for me that day, and His way of doing things, it’s hard to be crabby, nasty, and un-Christ-like amongst our small levels of adversity.
So the first response we’re shown is to call out to God, cast our cares upon Him, and remember that God is a PERSON, that we must reach out to, turn to, and make our requests known to with full faith that He will provide.
2 – Proclaim His name to your brothers and sisters Ps 22:22a
Another response to the adversity faced by the writer and Jesus, was to proclaim God’s name to those they are closest to.
We will experience a peace that surpasses understanding when we trust in God.
When we proclaim that Jesus is Lord, how good He is, thank Him, and declare that He is God through both action and words, there’s an alignment to God’s way which will help us.
Every time we align with God’s purposes in heart, deed, word, and thought, we bring goodness to our lives and God’s supernatural gifts. That’s not to say that God’s gifts are somehow withheld from us when we’re acting sinfully, but His desire is for us to live holy lives.
Proclaiming His name to your brothers and sisters might also look like a pro-active personal ministry to those closest to you.
It could be “working on” moving the spiritual needle of your family and friends, closer to the point where they would believe, and place their faith in Christ.
It might also look like proclaiming the name of the Lord among fellow believers.
Whatever the case, a response should be to proclaim, or state, who God is, what He’s done, to those around us, and to declare that we have faith in Him, trust in Him, and love Him.
3 – Praise His name in the great assembly vs. Ps 22:22b
Another way to push through adversity is to assemble with others in the name of Jesus, and Praise His name!
This means that we will praise God, worship Him, and thank Him, in the presence of others.
This seems to allude to a commitment to corporate worship or “going to Church.”
Gathering together to praise God is like medicine to our souls, and God is pleased when we do it.
4 – Praise the Lord as one who fears Him Ps 22:23
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge.” Proverbs 1:9
Fearing God means that we realize that He’s created all things, He owns all things, and He’ll be judging all things. We should absolutely fear being cross with God.
It’s one thing to fear those who can end our mortal life, but we should have a much greater fear of the one who can cast our soul away, into eternal punishment in Hell. (Mt 10:28)
In a flippant, arrogant, and proud world, we should look to the cosmos and realize just how tiny and insignificant we are. Then we should work hard to fathom the power of God.
God is so much bigger and more powerful than us, that the thing He created to illustrate it and teach us about His Holiness, was the ever-expanding cosmos.
When we peer out into the depths of the galaxies and universe, we see a scale that’s completely unfathomable – which is meant to show us just how “other-ly” God is from us.
In Isaiah 55:8-13, God told us through the prophet Isaiah that “as High as the heavens are from the earth, so are [God’s] ways higher than our ways, and [God’s] thoughts higher than our thoughts.”
We should praise God with a healthy fear of Him when we are faced with adversity.
Remember that anything helpful and good will have to come from Him, so we’ll be aligning with God’s ways by praising Him out of the fear of the Lord.
5 – Honor Him and show reverence in light of the great wonders God has done in the past, which we know through God’s word Ps 22:23b-c
“Honor Him, all you descendants of Jacob! Show Him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!”
When we’re faced with adversity, we should remember that those who believe in Jesus, and have placed their faith and trust in Him, are partakers and heirs to the same promises made by God to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the nation of Israel.
Read through the bible and we’ll see that we are part of the greatest and most grand narrative and conspiracy ever.
God intervened throughout history, in many ways. When we start to take that seriously, we will show Him the same honor and reverence that would have been required in the old testament when He passed before people as a fiery tornado, or when God’s presence made the mountains shake before Moses as He passed by so that Moses could experience Him in Exodus 33:22
This is about remembering who God is, by knowing His story and how He has intervened in the past. Read the Bible, and remember that we serve the same God as the Old Testament, which should command our reverence and honor.
This is for our good, because it shows us that God keeps His promises. When we see how he came through time and time again, according to His promises and prophecy, we realize that we worship a God that has given us promises and He will deliver on His word.
The main promise that can help us in adversity is that He will comfort us, that we have eternal life after death, and that death’s full affect was taken away from us by Jesus.
When you understand God’s full story, it’s easier to give reverence and honor to Him when adversity comes our way.
6 – Praise you in the great assembly of corporate worship Ps 22:25a
Earlier we talked about praising God in the congregation or assembly of others, but here we read about the “great” assembly. The idea here is that we’re remembering that we will stand before Jesus at the end of the ages.
In Mathew 25:32, we are taught by Jesus that all people, every single person who’s ever lived, will gather before Jesus at the end of the ages. Then He will separate those who are saved by their faith and trust in God, and those that turned from Him and would not seek Him; like separating goats from the sheep in a flock
This verse should remind us to look to that time, and commit to living in consideration of that moment, and also remember that we will give an account for every word we’ve spoken.
Jesus told us in Matthew 12:36, that we will have to give an answer not only to our actions, but to every word we’ve spoken. That’s because our words are a reflection of our heart, and from the heart comes every action.
Look at what Jesus says about our heart, and our words, in Matthew 12:33-37
33“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
He’s telling us that we need to be careful to align our hearts and beings to God, because we will be judged by the fruit we produce and the words of our mouth. Our mouths are an expression of our heart, and our hearts need to be aligned with Jesus and His ways.
So when we face adversity, it’s important that we live in light of a time when we’ll stand before God at the end of the ages, and give testimony to every single word we’ve said. Therefore, we should hold our tongue.
In fact, look at what James, the brother of Jesus, said about the power our words have and the impact it has on our lives:
1Dear brothers and sisters,a not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
3We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.
But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.b
7People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.c
7 – Fulfill your vows as a testimony Ps 22:25b
When adversity comes our way, we should commit to serving God.
When we work at everything as though we are serving God, we will be blessed for it.
Follow through in action to everything you’ve committed or promised to do. Be a person of your word, and act honorably.
By acting honorably before other people and God, we will receive peace, honor, and blessing before God for what we do.
This is important to remember, that how we live, at work, in interactions, and amongst everyone, really matters.
Serving God means Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
It’s important to think about what it means to Love God with those different facets, our mind, our strength, our soul and mind.
Strength and mind are interesting – particularly when we start auditing our actions and mind for what percentage has been either in service of the Lord, or in meditation upon the Lord.
What percentage of our time do we act as if in service of God?
What percentage of our time do we meditate our minds and hearts on the things of God?
When we REALLY consider this, in light of a 16 hour waking day, what percentage is in service to God?
We should make an audit, and try to convert higher and higher percentages of our time to service of God, and we’ll find that He’ll be pleased.
This was an interesting verse for me, and I’m flabbergasted at how God provides many solutions to our problems. This verse is incredibly complex, particularly when we see that it’s the words of both David and Jesus at the same time. This is JESUS – found in a book of the old testament that was written 1000 years before He was born. Psalm 22 is one of hundreds of mathematically impossible messianic prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. When you line this chapter up with the hundreds of others, we conclude that the chances of Jesus being able to fake His way into “messiah-ship” is preposterous. Jesus was the promised messiah, He rose from the dead, and He has shown us “the way” to live according to His love and truth.
When we face adversity, we need to dive into God’s word, and then live, act, think, and pray in a manner that honors Him. When we do that, He will bless us and take care of us – in eternity, as well as in the physical realm.