Mediate upon your glorious God and how His character is perfectly matched to meet your need. Then have a single-minded devotion for the LORD to be glorified even in your troubles. That is the pathway to be troubled and thankful. At the end of the day, although David’s trouble was great, he saw his God as greater. And although his affliction was heavy, he saw the glory of God to be weightier. This is what enabled David to give thanks in his trouble.
A few years ago, I read a news report about a woman who had been kicked off her airline flight because her “emotional support pig” became disruptive. The article explained that support animals had become an increasingly common way for people to cope with stress. Now, I do not know whether such a thing is helpful. In fact, since reading that report, it crossed my mind while flying that I would prefer a support pig in the seat next to me instead of the current occupant. But what I do know is that people are looking for any and every way to cope with life’s troubles.
For many, holidays are a mixture of joy and sadness. For some, a loved one died around a holiday or it is the first holiday since he or she passed. That memory becomes an ever-present reality amidst all the festivities. For others, the holidays reopen the wounds of a strained or broken relationship. Whatever the case may be, many people find themselves feeling troubled during the holidays. Therefore, how should Christians process the stress and heartaches of life, especially as we approach a holiday like Thanksgiving? How do I give thanks when my spirit is deeply troubled?
The good news is that Scripture offers us a surer and a more lasting way to respond to the troubles in our life. As I have faced my own trials, Psalm 86 has been of great encouragement to me.
David’s psalm has a solemn and somber mood to it. It is called a psalm of lament. David feels alone, isolated, and troubled. He ultimately cries out for God’s help and deliverance. The specific trouble is not revealed until verse 14 where David announces that there are men seeking to kill him.
Now, this should cause us to pay close attention because David’s trouble is not a trivial thing. Whatever your trouble may be, it is likely that it is not someone trying to take your life. My point is not to say, “Whatever trouble you’re facing, David had it worse.” One answer the world gives to cope with our problems is to remind us that there is always someone who has it worse. But that is not my intention, nor is it the way Scripture addresses our troubles. I do not seek to diminish or dismiss whatever trouble you are facing right now, but to emphasize that David’s example can encourage you because he is in a very dark place. And if God can help David there, he can surely help you wherever you are.
Furthermore, amid men seeking to kill him, David is brought to say, “I will give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with all my heart” (v. 12). And this thanksgiving is expressed to the Lord before David tells the Lord what troubles him or before he asks the Lord to be delivered from his plight. He is troubled and thankful.
But how do we get there? Well, David shows us the way.
David Meditates Upon His Need for the LORD
Even though David feels overwhelmed by his circumstances, he is driven to God in prayer. What is remarkable about his prayer is how long it takes him to give the details of his problem. I often find the first thing I do is express my problem to God. But that is not where David begins.
In verses 1-4, David recognizes his needy condition and comes to God in complete and utter dependence. He knows there is nothing he can do for himself and comes like a child to his father who knows there is no one else who can truly help him.