Psalm 41

Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.

I said, “O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.” My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish?” Whenever one comes to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it abroad. All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying, “A vile disease has beset him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.” Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

But you, O LORD, have mercy on me; raise me up, that I may repay them. I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me. In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever. Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.

David was seriously ill. His detractors visited him, exchanged pleasantries and prayers for a speedy recovery, and then went out and spread gossip about him saying he’d never survive. David knew to pray for his own healing, and knew that the Lord hadn’t abandoned him. He knew this because even in his weakened state, his enemies hadn’t been able to defeat him. David’s prayer for healing was answered, and he recovered and went on to become Israel’s most beloved king.

A few hundred years later, Israel was on the brink of defeat, only days away from surrender to the Babylonian armies. All the surrounding nations were shouting for joy at Israel’s impending demise, but the Lord said, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jere. 29:11)

After they were carried off to Babylon they did prosper, so much so that 70 years later when it was time to return, most elected to stay put. Those who did come back rebuilt the nation, the Holy City and the Temple. When they got bogged down, lost sight of their priorities, and again faced defeat at the hand of their enemies, the Lord sent Haggai to tell them, “From this day on I will bless you.” (Hag. 2:19)

Later Jesus told them and us, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matt 6:31-34)

Times are tough and getting tougher.  Some observers are already saying 2011 and 2012 will be called “the years from hell.”  But the lesson is clear. No matter how down and dirty things get, we have a right to be hopeful. We have the lessons of history to remind us that our God will never leave us or forsake us. And we have the Word of the Lord advising us to keep our eyes on Him, seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness, and He’ll take care of the rest.  Don’t worry, be happy.