Dear PRCW members and readers: How do we keep our spiritual balance in the face of tests, trials, weakness, temptation, persecution, and doubt? All of these things assail us in this life. How can we experience peace, quietness, confidence, a settled heart, comfort, and contentment in the midst of all of the stresses that we experience?
The psalmist was under great stress in Psalm 43. 1 & 2 say “Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
Here is a man in deep distress from every angle. He is distressed because his friends are not coming to help him, he is alone and lonely and forsaken. He is distressed because he is attacked by liars and sinners who seek to take his life. There is a certain feeling that you have – you sympathize with him perhaps b/c you have been there yourself. All he can do is pray. All he can do is cry out to God. But you see him turning away from self-pity at the end of the psalm. And how does he do it? He turns to the Word. He turns to the source of joy – the Lord.
The rest of the psalm ends with this beautiful conclusion: “Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your tabernacle. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”
The question is – how are we to be like that? How do we do what the psalmist did in Psalm 43? How do we turn that soul of ours from despair to joy? How can we be made strong like that?
Philippians 4 is a good place in Scripture to turn. Paul addresses our attitudes with these very comforting & challenging words. He was convinced that the way we think involved both attitudes & action. It has a profound influence on the way we live. The verb “to think” occurs very often in Philippians. The main root for this verb is translated in various ways: “just as it is right for me to think this of you all” (1:7); “let this mind [this thinking] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:5); “Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind [this mindset of growing in maturity]” (3:15). In contrast to the Christian mind, the enemies of the gospel set their mind on earthly things. What it is found in the mind, and the way we think, affects the heart and how we conduct ourselves. But not so those in Christ.
Philippians 4:1 says “Stand firm in the Lord.” Be spiritually strong, spiritual stable. The question is how: how are we to do that? Answer: Christ. Through Christ our minds are to be renewed. If we are citizens of heaven, if we are united to Christ and share with Him the benefits of eternal life, we are to have the right thinking. We are to have the right attitude. This is what we will be considering as we go through this chapter in the next while: what our attitudes are to be.
Pastor Rich Anjema