Tornado Delayed Conclusion

I have two views on Sunday’s outcome: (1) God determined I was preaching too long and sent tornadoes to stop me; or (2) God had me preach a long Psalm and therefore a long message to keep you safe at church from the tornadoes.

My vote is for the second.

Now, would you permit me an attempt at finishing my sermon in this post? …

You are more than gracious.

As a reminder, our present circumstances can often leave us struggling with feelings of doubt. We could feel as if God had forsaken us, was angry with us, was silent and inactive towards us, or was not willing to defend us. But our present circumstances do not tell us everything about reality.

God’s character is the foundation of our faith. While we cannot just turn off doubt, or pitch it out with the garbage, we can and must overcome doubt with faith. Who God reveals himself to be in his Word and through his creation is foundational to the Christian faith. In Psalm 74 we can see that God is the Great Shepherd who cares for his sheep (he will never forsake them), the Redeemer who purchased his people through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (though he may discipline, he will not remain angry with them for they are his purchased possession), the King of Old who shows authority and power (he is not silent or inactive since he is working out his salvation throughout the earth), and the Defender who jealously protects his name, his people, and his promises (he will not leave his people defenseless).

So how should we respond? If faith is to overcome doubt then we must respond in four ways:

  1. Pray dependently. The whole Psalm is a prayer and the psalmist prays to God because he believes God can do something about the present circumstances. In the end, there are many things outside of our power to control and change, but faith prays to the God who has power over everything.
  2. Affirm truth unashamedly. We must have the conviction to hold fast to faith in spite of surrounding circumstances or our feelings.  The psalm says, “Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame.” Why? They’re downtrodden, struck down, and humiliated. Shame should be their response, but only if we judge life based upon the present difficult circumstances. As Christians we know life is based on more: “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that sufferings produce endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5. God is still God whether present circumstances make it seem like it or not, and we can affirm this unashamedly.
  3. Give praise wholeheartedly. In very difficult circumstances this can be hard to do, but God is worthy of our worship and the service of our lives whether we receive blessings or hardship from his hand. The psalm says, “Let the poor and needy praise your name.” While we are still poor and while we are still needy, we are to praise our Amazing God.
  4. Live stewardly. The psalm says, “Arise, O God, defend your cause!” God’s cause is the only cause worth living for and as his people it is our duty to be for his cause. In the end, if our suffering furthers God’s cause then we should think it well worth the pain. In fact, we should want nothing more. As God’s stewards on earth we are here to bring about his purposes. God’s purpose is the working out of salvation in the midst of the earth. If the fall of Jerusalem would bring about the gospel proclamation in Babylon then we should be for it. O that God’s name would be exalted in all the earth, but for this to happen we must willingly be God’s instruments to bring about this exaltation. Our lives must find its center in God and his cause … we work … we eat … we play … we talk … we live to bring about his purposes. Truly we are not our own and our story is really not about us but about Him.

“Oh let your will be done in me

In your love we will abide

Oh I long for nothing else as long

As you are glorified”

Bryan Heller

Words and Music by Mark Altrogge.
© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI). Sovereign Grace Music, a division of Sovereign Grace Ministries.
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