No Pity Party
“If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!”- Proverbs 24:10
Moorpark. Many would recognize this as a main street in our wonderful town, while others would immediately think of the city directly north of us. However, in the Zwerling family “Moorpark” has become a running joke! Now, please do not send me a nasty email or letter rebuttal, because it has nothing to do with us critiquing or speaking poorly of this wonderful city in the Conejo Valley. What has us cracking up, on almost a daily basis, is when a member of the family will call out “Moorpark” to our oldest son (a senior in high school) when he is being lazy. You see, as he is prayerfully considering his college choice and mapping out what the next four years look like, a junior college is far from his radar. When we bring up that option to him it might as well be us ordering sardines as a pizza topping. This Zwerling family monologue is more than a comedy act, but it is a helpful and truthful reminder of the commitment and responsibility required when it comes to attending a four-year university.
As I think about the prodding (or gentle ribbing) that is taking place with our son over a college choice, I can’t help but think about how each one of us is given a choice that is crucial to our long-term success, speaks volumes about our commitment level, and reveals whether we are passing the faith test with flying colors. As we consider all the circumstances and challenges that come are way on a regular basis, we have a choice as to whether we will find ourselves at a place of PITY or PRESSING IN. Consider with me the words of David in Psalm 40:2, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on the rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” In the midst of his unwavering and heartfelt devotion to the Lord, the amazing stories of provision and deliverance, and the prominent position given to him as King of Israel, David was a man whose life was intersected with pain, heartbreak, betrayal, attack, and loss. His brothers mocked him; his wife ridiculed him; his father-in-law hated him to the point of plotting his destruction; his best friend died in war; and his son died due to David’s sin. I have often said that David’s life, makes a Shakespeare play look like slapstick comedy. This example is not meant to have us thinking that these events (or better put personal earthquakes) were not difficult or gut-wrenching. They were as real and rough for David as any of the big-time struggles you may be currently feeling and fighting through. The key for us in troubling times is choosing to press into the Lord, to the Rock of our Salvation, when everything in life seems like it is crumbling around us. Listen to another cry from this faithful man found in Psalm 34:4-5, 17, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame…The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.”
In times of trouble some choose PITY. They may go to a place of questioning God’s love, blaming others for their problems, isolating themselves from friends who will provide wise counsel and loving support, or giving up on seeking the Lord in prayer and standing on His perfect promises. There are others who will not give place to how or what they feel. The other option, the better choice, the no sardines topping, is when a person/couple chooses to PRESS into the Lord during the storm, the fire, the battle, the famine, the disease, and the mountain! James 1:2-4 instructs us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Whether it has been an illness in the family, financial struggle, need for employment, relational strife, or any other intense series of events, one of the things that has blessed me beyond measure is when people who have been going through the tough stuff of life share how they have not been moved off their foundation, off their path, or off their commitment to the Lord. I have spoken to several people in their struggle who keep believing for breakthrough, who continue to ask for prayer, who choose not to be combative with their spouse or close off others, and who do not become defined by the present moment. I had a friend tell me the other day, “I have never had a tougher year and I have never been closer to Jesus!” How awesome is it that people are saying that their season of struggle has not driven them from the Lord, but brought them to a place of spending more time in the Bible and prayer; that it hasn’t brought a wedge in the marriage, but has caused them stand together like never before; that it hasn’t caused them to sink into a deep depression, but has caused them to choose to live in a spirit of thankfulness. I know that in my own life over the last several months, the Lord has reminded me to trade in the heavy load for His light yoke. Isaiah 61:3 tells us to, “put on the garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Today, may we be reminded of the commitment we have made to the Lord and choose to live in the place of His presence, the pathway of peace, and the power of His promises!