My book study group is currently reading Fearless in 21 Days: A Survivor’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety, by Sarah E. Ball. One reading stood out to me particularly last week, in fact, it brought me to tears.
The journey of life is convoluted and often confusing. Whether you face mental health challenges or not, life doesn’t go the way we expect it to. Sometimes we can see our desired destination right in front of us but the road we’re on takes us through deserts and the valleys before we get there. It’s that journey which forms us into people of greater stature, capacity and compassion, people who can actually possess the land of our destination. But our hearts can be hurt during the journey. We find ourselves asking, “God, do you even care?”
God does care and in our hour of distress, he rescues us. Psalm 18 forms the backbone of Sarah’s reading on Spiritual Deliverance which moved me so much. She’s not talking about demonic deliverance but about being rescued by the Lord in times of distress.
The visible reality:
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord,
The hidden reality:
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.
The promised reality:
Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.
Smoke went up from His nostrils,
And devouring fire from His mouth;
Coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With darkness under His feet.
And He rode upon a cherub, and flew;
He flew upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness His secret place;
His canopy around Him was dark waters
And thick clouds of the skies.
From the brightness before Him,
His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire.
The Lord thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe,
Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
The foundations of the world were uncovered
At Your rebuke, O Lord,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.
He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me,
For they were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my support.
He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.
If I’m honest, that picture is terrifying. Comfortingly terrifying. The creator of the universe enraging the heavens on my behalf. Rage-smoke rising off him, fire pouring out of him, flying through the air riding an angel, stealthy and dark. For my problems: utter devastation. For my soul: utter rescue. That’s why I cried. I think I needed to be reminded that he delivers me because he delights in me. We can lose sight of that so easily.
He delivers you because he delights in you.
He delivers you.
He delights in you.
In our hour of trouble, God is flying towards us in a fury of deliverance. His wrath—which we are so fearful of—is only ever aimed at that which ensnares us. His anger is our salvation. The manifestation of his wrath is the actualization of our rescue.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:2)
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)
And when he rescues us, he does so in a way that equips us to stay rescued. He would bail us out over and over again if that was necessary but it wouldn’t serve us very well. When he rescues us he puts our feet on a rock and makes us firm and places a sword and plowshare in our hands. He delivers us in a way that affirms our worth, our strength, our power, our freedom. He honours us. If he just bailed us out every time, there might come a day when we start to suspect he’s enabling our problems because it keeps him in the picture. Like someone with a saviour complex.
Our saviour is the only one without a saviour complex.
When we cry out in desperation, aware of our frailty and our unworthiness, he rushes to us, cleans us off, heals our wounds, and calls us beautiful.
And lest we fear that he rescues us only to leave us to fight our next battle alone (or to imagine that we might no longer need him), that simply isn’t the case. His nature is now our nature, his life, our life. It’s like God himself comes to dwell within us. Because he does.