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Hope In Distress

– by Jon Coombs

My Senior Pastor informed me on Saturday that I’d be the one preaching the next day. He’d come down with a gastro-style bug and there was no way he could make it. A few quick and desperate prayers were offered, but, after looking over old sermons, I couldn’t find peace. What kept tugging at me was the fact that it had been a heavy week in our world. There was no way I couldn’t mention the massacre in Christchurch or the sentencing of a Cardinal.

Thankfully Scripture speaks into all situations and I found myself drawn to Psalm 142—a Psalm that speaks of God as our refuge and rescuer in whom we can hope and trust despite tragedy. And, as the late-night outline formed, it was this truth I spoke into the next morning.

The Plea

In Psalm 142 we are immediately struck by the way David expresses his feelings to God—feelings that those closely affected by last week’s events no doubt share. David, on the run from King Saul, is hiding in a cave trying to avoid being killed (see 1 Samuel 22; 24). The opening verses read:

I cry aloud to the Lord;
    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
(Psalm 142:1-3a)

David calls out to God in a way that resonates with anyone in deep pain and distress: “I cry out,” “I pour out,” “I lift up my voice,” “I tell of my trouble”—words pleading to be heard while trapped and alone. David’s prayer to God is that he will be heard amidst deep distress, grief, and pain. His is the same kind of distress we saw on Friday; the kind of distress victims of abuse feel; the kind of distress that comes from the loss of a family member, or a child, or a marriage. The call to God becomes a cry, and the cry becomes a groan as we realise it is too hard to express ourselves.

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Hope in Distress

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