‘When my heart is faint’
These days, I am reading a book called "The Christian Warfare" by Pastor Lloyd Jones. The reason I am reading this book is because I felt the need to know more about the spiritual warfare as I was sharing stories of Job and about the Satan’s forces with my beloved co-worker. According to Rev. Lloyd Jones, who also talked about the book of Job, said that the devil clearly had some power over nature. As an example, when Satan began to strike Job under God's permission, one of Job's servants came to Job and saw that his ox and donkey had been taken away, and the servants were dead. “While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’” (Job 1:16). Here, it clearly teaches that the task of causing lightning and destroying by lightning is in the domain and power of the devil. It is the fact that the devil with this remarkable ability is more interested than anything else, attacking with intense cunning and terrible power, the best gift of humanity. In particular, the devil attacks our minds with various tools, one of which is to suppress us as the spirit of terror. The reason why Peter, who said he would not abandon the Lord at any time, eventually denied the Lord three times and said he didn’t know the Lord at all was because of the fear of the devil's terrifying spirit caused him to fear about losing his own life (Jones). And Rev. Jones gave these bold words to the church these days: ‘The church is anesthetized, confused, fell asleep, and never knows the spiritual warfare.’
The devil that always puts a trap and a snare seems to be succeeding in the church now. Rev. Lloyd Jones said, ‘The depression, the discouragement, the defeat and the complete despair are the result of the activities of the devil in general.’ How many of us Christians are discouraged and depressed and living in defeat? How many of us are experiencing despair? We must fight with the power of the Lord Jesus who already won the victory in this spiritual battle with the devil. We must live a militant Christian life with the conviction of victory. We are to have a spiritual warfare. One of the examples is in Psalms 61. When we look at Psalms 61:2, the psalmist David said “when my heart is faint”. Here, the word "faint" means "self-enveloping". This refers to the state of being disheartened and despairing surrounded by his various struggles and troubles (Park Yun-sun). David had been despairing because of the persecution of his enemies (v. 3). When our hearts are faint like David by the devil’s evil forces, how should we fight them? I want to receive four lessons from Psalms 61:
First, when our hearts are faint, we must cry out to God.
Look at Psalms 61:1 – “Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer.” I still remembering saying many times to my church members and others that when are in discouraged and in despair, we should take that as an opportunity to seek God. When our hearts are anxious, depressed, and despair because of the various hardships and suffering of life, we must cry out to God like David. And when we cry out to God, we must pray, remembering that ‘God desire me more than I desire God.’ But somehow we seem to forget that God desires us when we are so hard and painful. So David said, “From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint” (v. 2). Why did David say "from the end of the earth"? The reason was that David felt so desperate that God had forsaken him, and therefore felt that God was too far away from him. In the midst of that feeling, David didn’t throw himself out of despair. Rather, he cried out to God, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (v. 2). In the midst of deep despair, David cried out to God as he was looking at the rock that is higher than him.
Although we are in deep despair like David, we must yearn for God. We must cry out to Him. Although we may feel that we have been expelled from God’s sight, nevertheless we must look again toward God (Jon. 2:4) and cry out to him.
Second, when our hearts are faint, we must take refuge in God.
Look at Psalms 61:4 – “Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.” What we can do in despair is to cry out to God and to take refuge in Him. The reason is that only God is our protector. So in the midst of extreme despair, even in the sense of being far from God, David confessed, “For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy” (v. 3). How could David confess that God is his refuge and a tower of strength? I found the answer in verse 7: “… Appoint lovingkindness and truth that they may preserve him.” David was able to confess that God is his refuge and tower of strength because God preserved him with His lovingkindness and truth when his heart was faint. Therefore, David was able to cry out to God and took refuge in Him because he was being protected by the lovingkindness and truth of God even in a state of his heart was faint. Here, the lesson we can learn is that we should hold on to God's lovingkindness and truth even when our hearts are faint. In other words, we must take refuge in the Lord by believing that God who unconditionally loves us will faithfully carry out His promise of deliverance according to His perfect plan (Park).
We must hold on to God's eternal love and truth in the midst of our life's desperation. In the midst of that we must be led by the hope that we will dwell in the tent of God forever (v. 4). We must look at God's eternal dwelling tent in the midst of our temporal despair.
Third, when our hearts are faint, we must remember the grace of God that he gave in the past.
Look at Psalms 61:5 – “For You have heard my vows, O God; You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name.” This refers to the government of Israel that went to the unfaithful Absalom for a moment is being restored to David (Park Yun-sun). In other words, David remembered the grace of God’s deliverance from the rebellion of his son Absalom in the past (Park Yun-sun). David remembered what God did for him in the past rather than remembering what he had done for God when his heart was faint due to his enemy (v. 3). This is by no means our instinct. Our instinct is to pray to God when our hearts are faint and to prove our actions and talk about our own merits. As an example, we can see Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life because Jezebel threatened him (vv. 2-3). He went into the wilderness (v. 4) and then all the way to Mt. Horeb (v. 8). Then when he went into a cave, the word of the Lord came to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (vv. 9, 13). Elijah then complained, claiming his act (or merit) for God in answer, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hots" (vv. 10, 14).
One of our problems is forgetting what we must not forget and not forgetting what we should forget. For example, even though God not only forgave our sin that we repented but also forgot our sin, but we still remember it and talk about it. On the contrary, even though we should not forget God’s grace in the past, we tend to forget His grace too soon. We must remember God’s grace in our past life as David did. Especially when our hearts are faint like David, we must look back on our lives how God had been shown His grace of deliverance we must endure the present desperate and difficult situation. When our hearts are faint, the despair of our hearts must turn to hope as we remember the memories of God's grace that were given to us in the past.
Fourth and last, when our hearts are faint, we must seek the eternal kingdom of God.
Look at Psalms 61:7 – “He will abide before God forever; Appoint lovingkindness and truth that they may preserve him.” David asked God to increase the king’s life and his years for many generations (v. 6). In other words, He asked God to extend his life to the God who controls life and death. In short, David asked God to bless him with long life. Furthermore, David asked God for him to abide before God forever (v. 7). Imagine David, who was in despair because of his enemies, but he looked to God in the midst of it and had hope in Him. And he asked God for him to abide before God forever as he remembered the grace given to him after he took a refuge in Him. We, like David, must also pray for us to abide in Him forever when we are in a momentary despair. In particular, we should pray that the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ who rules over the kingdom of God forever, that we will live forever in the kingdom of God as kingdom people. As we pray for this, we should also pray that the Lord taught us to “Thy kingdom come”. And we must confess as Apostle John did, “Amen, Come, Lord Jesus,” in response to what Jesus said, “Yes, I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20).
When David’s heart was faint, he cried out to God and took refuge in Him. Then he remembered the God’s grace of the past and longed for God's eternal kingdom. And if God answered his prayer, guiding him, protecting him and giving him the grace of salvation, then David determined to this: “… I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may pay my vows day by day” (Ps. 61:8). Therefore, we also, like David, must cry out to God when our hearts are faint, and take refuge in Him who is the tower of strength. And we must remember the God’s grace in the past so that we may live forever in the presence of God.
After praising “Nearer My God to Thee” to God,
(Praying to make my despair as an opportunity to seek God more)