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WHEN LIFE HURTS
Intro: There are 150 Psalms in the Book of Psalms. This Psalm, Psalm 88, this is without a doubt, the saddest. The words of this Psalm are heart breaking. Here is a man who does not want to continue living his life. He wants to die, v. 15.
Verse 15 is the key verse of the chapter. The root of this mans problem stems from his youth, v. 15. No one knows for sure, but it is possible that the Psalmist is suffering from leprosy. Notice his words in verses 3-7; 8-9; 15-18.
Whatever the nature of his affliction, he sees it as the chastisement of the Lord on his life, v. 7, 16. Whether that is true or not, we do not know, but it was not uncommon for God to afflict those who sinned against great light with leprosy. There are three occasions mentioned in the Old Testament.
1. King Uzziah for sinning against the Lords Sanctuary 2 Chron. 26:16-21.
2. Elishas servant Gehazi for sinning against Gods Salvation 2 Kings 5:27.
3. Moses sister Miriam for sinning against Gods Servant Num. 12:1-15.
I want to draw our attention to this man and his pain. We have before us a very defeated, discouraged and depressed man. Here is how he sees his life.
1. He Believes That He Has No Future - V. 1-7; v. 3-4 - To be without hope is devastating.
2. He Believes That He Has No Friends - v. 8 - Loneliness is a killer!
Ill. A man in Oklahoma has a business where he charges people $5.00 per half hour just to listen to them talk.
Ill. There once was a lonely lady who listened to her radio every night just to hear the announcer say, We bid you a very good evening.
Ill. In Japan lifestyles have become so hectic that a strange company has been formed. It is now possible to rent a family for events like birthdays and Christmas.
Thank God, the Christian is never truly alone! Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20; John 14:18
3. He Believes That He Has No Foundation - v. 9-12 - He feels that he has no hope, and nothing to hold on to. He believes that even all his reaching out to the Lord for help has been in vain!
4. He Believes That He Has No Faith - v. 13-18
a. v.13 He has no expectation in prayers.
b. v.14 He has no explanation for his problems.
His life has been this way for many years and there is no end to the misery that is his life. He believes that he is condemned to struggle under this heavy load until he finally dies.
Have you ever been here? Maybe you are there right now, or perhaps you are aware of someone who has fallen into the depths of despair. If so, I believe the answers to this mans problems and those you might have today can be found in this Psalm.
Let me share the steps we need to take When Life Hurts. In the dark despair of this Psalm, there are some reasons for hope. I want to talk to you about those times When Life Hurts. I want to point out the steps we need to take during the painful times of life when life hurts.
I. v. 1, 2, 9, 13 MAINTAIN YOUR CONNECTION TO GOD
A. Even with all his problems, this man kept on praying!
B. Recognizing how he prayed can help us when we face times like these. Notice:
1. He Prayed Continually - v. 1, v. 9, v. 13 - Night and day, Daily; First thing every day all day - Dont ever give up, and never stop praying! We are told to continue instant in prayer!
2. He Prayed Emotionally - v. 1 - Cried - To shout and shriek. Ill. v. 9 Like a little child, he reached up to the Lord. This burden was heavy on him, and it touched him at the heart of his being. He was a broken man emotionally. Emotion is a vital part of the effective prayer life.
Ill. Human emotion and burdens touch the heart of the Lord.
When human words fail us, the Spirit takes over. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God, Rom. 8:26-27.
3. He Prayed Intelligently - v. 1 - He directed his prayer toward God and God alone! He called out to the God Who hears and answers the prayers of His saints.
Four times God is referred to as Lord, verses 1, 9, 13, 14. This is the name Jehovah. It is the name of God that refers to Him as the Covenant Keeper. This name tells us that He is the God who keeps faith with His people. He is the God Who never fails and Who never deserts His Own. He is the God of creative. He is the God Who is able, Eph. 3:20. He is the God Who can do the impossible, any time and in any place.
Heman knew the true source of his help and strength. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, Psalms 46:1.
I. Maintain Your Connection To God
II. MAINTAIN YOUR COMMITMENT TO GOD
God is silent in this Psalm! He does not respond to the brokenhearted cry of this man. God does not even give this man a hint that He is listening. That does not indicate that He didnt care for this man. It simply means that God chose not to answer here. We are told that the Psalmist does begin to question Gods silence, v. 14. But, who can blame him? It is hard to carry one when it seems that the heavens have turned to brass! Still, he never gives up!
God did not answer a single one of Jobs questions! God did not answer Jesus when He cried out on the cross! But, what He did through His silence, in judging sin in the body of Jesus, was His greatest work! God spoke all of His creation into existence! His greatest works, however, are often accomplished in silence! (Ill. Joseph Gen. 37-50; Ill. Job God did not answer Job until the end of the book Job 42:1-17; Ill. Our duty is not to question, it is to conform. We must remember that His plans and ways are not like ours - Isa. 55:8-9.
Regardless of what the problems of life appear to be to our troubled minds, they are never what they seem.
They appear to be:
1. Extreme, v. 6 - laid me in the lowest pit.
2. Inexplicable, v. 6 - in darkness.
3. Humiliating, v. 6 - in the deeps.
4. Severe, v. 7 - thy wrath lieth hard.
5. Exhaustive, v. 7 - afflicted with all thy waves.
What they really are:
1. They are light. 2 Cor. 4:17
2. The work of God in our lives Rom. 8:28
3. They serve to lift us 2 Cor. 12:10
4. The gift of Gods love 1 Pet. 5:7, 1 John 4:8
5. Not exhaustive, but partial. Not all Gods waves, but only a few ripples. The burden is but the slight motion in a calm harbor when there is a boisterous ocean beyond. 2 Cor. 12:9
D. God is not afraid of our whys. Our questions do not scare Him, nor do they threaten Him. Still, He desires us to come to the place that even when we cannot trace God, we merely just trust Him! That is what He is after in your life and mine! Therefore, no matter how hard the winds blow, God is Ruler of the winds. No matter how rough the sea becomes, He is still the Master of the sea! When God does not answer you, keep on looking to Him! Persist in your faith and it will pay dividends in His time! Never give up!
Ill. A story is told that Andrew Jackson's boyhood friends just couldn't understand how he became a famous general and then the President of the United States. They knew of others who had greater talent but who never succeeded.
One of Jackson's friends commented, Why, Jim Brown, who lived right down the pike from Jackson, was not only smarter but he could throw Andy three times out of four in a wrestling match. But look where Andy is now.
Another friend responded, How did there happen to be a fourth time? Didn't they usually say three times and out?
Sure, they were supposed to, but not Andy. He would never admit he was beat -- he would never stay throwed. Jim Brown would get tired, and on the fourth try Andrew Jackson would throw him and be the winner.
Andrew Jackson just wouldn't stay throwed! The same should be true of each of us! No matter what we are facing, we must not stay throwed by it.
I. Maintain Your Connection To God
II. Maintain Your Commitment To God
III. v. 1 MAINTAIN YOUR CELEBRATION OF GOD
A. There is one gleam of glory, one bright spot, in this otherwise gloomy Psalm. Notice verse 1. He calls out to The God of MY SALVATION! If you are saved, you have a reason to rejoice! No matter how dark the valley, how deep the trial, or how difficult the way, you have a license to praise the Lord! Ill. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven, Luke 10:20!
B. Praise may not do away with your pain, but it will bring you into the Lords presence, Psa. 22:3! By the way, Satan has a hard time with a praising saint - Ill. Job, Job 1:20-21! Ill. You may not feel like it, but praise Him anyway! When you feel like crying: cry, weep, empty your heart of the bitterness of sorrow; but call on the Lord and offer up thanksgiving for all He has done for you! In His time and in His Own way, He will lift your burdens, Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved, Psalms 55:22.
C. How do you revive the spirit of praise? Do what the Bible says.
Determine in your heart that come what may, you will praise Him simply because He is worthy to receive all worship, glory and honor.
Just begin to rejoice in His presence, bless His Name and thank God for His blessings. You may not feel like rejoicing when you start, but you will before you finish! Ill. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel, Psa.22:3.
Conc: Sometimes life hurts. When it does, we need to do as the Psalmist did in this passage. We need to keep on praying, keep on persevering, and keep on praising. It may not always change the situation, but there can be little doubt that is will change us in the situations we face in life.
C. S. Lewis once said, God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
Sometimes life hurts, but when it does, there is help and hope for those who know the Lord!