In the past weeks, months, yes, even for this whole year, have any of you felt a sense of despair just watching what is happening around you?
Have there been worries about health, finances, work? Have you lost a loved one? Do some things our young do worry you? Is your marriage troubled? Has there been a broken relationship? Do you awaken in the morning with a heavy heart unable to contain the hurt caused by life’s disappointments?
Just reading the paper brings all the worries in black and white. What is happening? How could 2008 have become so bad? We could probably dig deeply and honestly to find reasons but that is not the thrust of this message today. Today, December 31, 2008, the last day of this year.
As I look to a new year, I look to a new hope. I pray for a better future. As I sought this, the LORD led me to Psalm 20 and I pray this for myself, my family, my community, my country and the world. It seems a tall order, but we must ask boldly as we approach His throne of grace.
Let us pray this in our spirit as we celebrate—as we all do—New Year’s Eve. Let us prayerfully enter 2009, going into the presence of the LORD.
“May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble;
May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;
May He send you help from the sanctuary,
And strengthen you out of Zion;
May He remember all your offerings,
And accept your burnt sacrifice.
May he grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your purpose.
We will rejoice in your salvation,
And in the name of our God we will set up our banners!
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.
Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed:
He will answer him from His holy heaven
With the saving strength of His right hand.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
They have bowed down and fallen;
But we have risen and stand upright.
May the King answer us when we call.”
There is so much to this beautiful psalm of David. We are indeed in the day of trouble. In every one of his petitions, David talks about the needs that he has of God. In the same way, let us be honest ourselves and realize that much of what we flap around doing will come to nought in our strength. Let us acknowledge that He is our salvation. But let us also have the same faith that David had because he knows who this God is because he sought closeness with Him.
I found it significant that David refers to the LORD as the God of Jacob. Why? From recent Torah studies, we have seen that as much as the LORD loved Jacob, he allowed him to have so much suffering in his life—waiting for Rachel, dealing with Laban, loving Joseph and losing him, living through famine, traveling away from his home to a foreign land for survival.
I drew great comfort that it tells of a mighty God that knows what he is doing when the world around us can seem like He has abandoned us. There is something necessary about trials and hardships and pain. See what happened to Israel after that? His people being drawn into Egypt so that He could redeem them to their Promised Land is a powerful, powerful lesson for me.
The God of Jacob was one that allowed the hardship but worked miracles for His people. It teaches me about hardship and the need to draw closer to Him.
Read this psalm in prayer. Let this be His gift to start 2009. Every word of David’s pleas applies to us individually. But let us not stop at ourselves because God’s words are here to bless the world.
Let us pray this psalm for our children, for the times that they have to live in, for the morals that they have to battle. Let us pray this psalm for our families and community, for the times that we have to struggle through, lost jobs, lost health, hard circumstances. Let us pray this psalm for our country, for help from God’s sanctuary to raise up wise, noble and upright political and business leaders. Let us pray this for the world, against hunger, disease, terrorism, and conflict. Let us ask for renewal for the new year.
Let us boldly pray that he will turn hardship around for the sake of every one of us. None of us deserve it; each of us failed in our own ways. I acknowledge it. I will not trust in chariots or horses. We need to call on His name to come with us into 2009.