Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How to Not Fear a Steamroller

David faced down a steamroller. We get a glimpse of his affliction in Psalm 56, where he cries out, "Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me" (56:1).

David knew what it was like to be squished.

And yet, like a grape, the blood that flowed from his flattened soul was soaked with faith in God: "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?" (56:3)

How might we have the same response to suffering? How is it possible not to fear the steamroller of affliction?

Let's try to answer David's question. "What can flesh do to me?"

Answer #1: Flesh can do lots of things to us.

Here's a sample from verses 5-7:
  • People can injure our cause.
  • People can fill their minds with evil thoughts against us.
  • They can stir up strife.
  • They can lurk in corners and dark alleys.
  • They can lie in wait for our lives.
David was not naive to all that flesh could do. What then does he mean?

Answer #2: If God is for us, flesh can do nothing to us.

Listen to David explain the hope that steadied his trembling hand: "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me" (56:8-9).

This was his hope: that God was for him. Sounds a lot like what Paul would say many years later: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).

How then can we be sure that God is for us? Answer: by treasuring the One who was flattened in our place. Jesus knew every sorrow David was talking about. "He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). He knew what Psalm 56 was like.

There is one crucial difference, though. Jesus knew sorrow because he was bearing it for us. "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:4). "He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

If we look to the One who was crushed for our sin, God is no longer against us. We don't need to fear the steamroller, even if it grinds us into the pavement. "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).

May God give us grace to not cower before the steamroller of affliction. In Christ, our Father is for us, and if he is pleased to have the cylinder of evil press our lives to flattened extinction, we will not fear.

We have a God who will raise us from the asphalt.

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