Psalm 66

Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.”

Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf! He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot—come, let us rejoice in him. He rules forever by his power, his eyes watch the nations—let not the rebellious rise up against him.

Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.

I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you- vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble. I will sacrifice fat animals to you and an offering of rams; I will offer bulls and goats.

Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!

There are two situations when I feel really close to God. The first is when I’ve got a big problem, a problem only He can solve. I’m right there praying constantly. And the second is when it’s become obvious that He’s solved it. I shout and sing my praise, and tell anyone who’ll listen what He’s done for me. But why is my realization that He’s solved the problem cause for such celebration? Shouldn’t I have known that He would?

I remember hearing a pastor tell a story of his early days when there was no money for food. He prayed and prayed for help, his prayers becoming more urgent and more anguished as the situation deteriorated. Then one day when it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse and no help was coming, a man who had owed him $400 for a long time showed up unexpectedly at his door and gave him the money.

On his knees and in tears the pastor thanked God for rescuing him in his hour of need. “I promised to always help you,” the Lord replied. “And I’ve done so countless times. Why do you always wait for proof before thanking me?”

Good question. In Matt. 28:18-20 Jesus informed His disciples that all authority in heaven and on Earth had been given to Him. Then He told them to go and make disciples of all nations. Finally He assured them that He would always be with them, even to the very end of the Age.

Do you realize He couldn’t have been talking only to them? First of all, they had no way of personally discipling all the nations. Thomas apparently got the farthest from home, probably winding up in eastern India near Madras, but the rest stuck pretty much to the area around the Eastern Mediterranean. And second, they wouldn’t need His protection to the End of the Age. They’d all be with Him in Heaven within 60 years or so.

So He had to be talking beyond them all the way to us, upon whom the very end of the age has come. Throughout the Church Age, all who would become disciples of Jesus would receive the protection and comfort of the One to Whom all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given.

So why do we even have problems, then? A popular Christian song says, “If I’d never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that He can solve them.” When’s the proper time to thank Him for solving yours? A well known TV preacher always ends his prayers of supplication by saying, “We count these things as accomplished, according to the promise of Your Word.”

One advantage of having problems that we can learn to trust in Him. As we do, His participation in our lives becomes so obvious that soon we realize the proper time to thank Him is when we ask for help. The abundant life He promised us (John 10:10) isn’t necessarily filled with all the luxuries of this world. It’s filled with the absolute assurance that as we put our life in His hands, we literally divest ourselves of all our cares and concerns. We ask and we receive, and our joy is complete. (John 16:24)