I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this is the best time of year. I know, it gets mighty cold, but the weather is a circumstance, and we all know we must not let our circumstances dictate how we feel. For those in Christ, challenging circumstances are an opportunity to demonstrate the power of God. In Christ, we are able to live above our circumstances, with joy, peace, and power.
To live above our circumstances we must focus on things beyond them. I recall many times as a young church planter how important this fact was. Denise and I labored for years with the thought that all our hard work was in jeopardy at every moment. The daily spiritual warfare was intense. We could feel it.
Yet, in the midst of that uncertainty, we learned many important, empowering truths about God that we could never have learned without living in the midst of that perennial crucible. And Thanksgiving and Christmas are the times of the year that bring some of those soul-refreshing truths back into vivid focus.
Some of these empowering truths are embodied in Psalm 65. I read this Psalm at my family’s Thanksgiving table every year to remind us of the goodness of our God through Jesus Christ and to help us remember what we have to be thankful for. As you come into this special time of year, perhaps you, as well, might be asking what God has done for you lately. Or, maybe you just need a spiritual pick-me-up. Psalm 65 will do it. This beautiful psalm, penned by the great King David, is a wonderful reminder of God’s many blessings.
David begins by reminding us that God has met our greatest need. He has forgiven us of our sin. He says, “As for our transgressions, you forgive them,” (v. 3). We who have come to know God can testify that our greatest blessing is the peace we have found with Him through faith in Jesus His Son. That is certainly true for me. I was hard and rebellious. Some faithful people probably looked at me and saw a young man too far from God to be helped, but God saw me through the eyes of love. In His great mercy He pursued me until I surrendered to His great love in Jesus. We were all sinners and separated from God, but God in Christ saved us through faith. Now, the God of the universe indwells us and has made us His own.
This is reason enough to live above our circumstances. Yet, David is just warming up. He tells us that God not only forgives us. He also watches over us. He exclaims, “By awesome deeds you answer us,” (v. 5). God not only hears our prayers but also answers them in powerful ways. God doesn’t protect me from everything, but I am comforted in knowing that I can trust Him to do what is best in His plan for my life every day. This is the perfect time of year to remember God’s awesome deeds on our behalf. I assure you, your current challenges will appear much smaller as you recall the great things the Lord has done.
Our personal needs are not all that God tends to. David says God “stills the roaring of the seas…and the tumult of the peoples,” (v. 7). The great God of creation watches over nature and the affairs of humanity. I know this can be hard to accept in our uncertain world. Montanans know just how disinterested nature is in human wellbeing. Nature does what it does, and we must do what we can to protect ourselves. But here, David assures us that nature itself is subject to the will of God. It is not the great decider. When nature is doing its worst, God is able to step in at any moment and still it. And when it has done its worst, God brings renewal.
Nature can be the impersonal nemesis, at times. The calculating, cruelty of people is another thing, altogether. David declares that God is also sovereign over the schemes of men. People may do their worst, as well, and at times they do, but we don’t need to fear them because God is greater. Now, I certainly wouldn’t even attempt to explain to someone why he or she went through a horrible ordeal at human hands. I can only remind them of Job, who in the midst of his ordeal declared, “I know my Redeemer lives…even if my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God,” (Job 19:25-26). Nothing that happens surprises God. At times, only He knows why He allows some things, but the great truth that God is in control is a great source of comfort. Neither this world nor our lives are merely just happening. Everything fits into God’s master plan, and we, in Christ, are assured that the future rests firmly in His hand.
David then reflects on God’s excess provision. He proclaims, “You have crowned the year with your bounty,” (v. 11). Now, we come to one of my favorite passages: “The pastures of the wilderness drip, and the hills gird themselves with rejoicing. The meadows are clothed with flocks, And the valleys are covered with grain: They shout for joy, yes, they sing” (vv. 12-13). The entire landscape, from hill to valley, reveals the excess that God has poured out on His beloved. As I reflect on my year, I can give thanks that God has always provided more than I needed. God is my great provider. And not mine alone. In Christ, we are all blessed with more than we need.
No matter what comes into my life, I rest in the knowledge that I am God’s through faith in Jesus, that He is at work in my life and the world, and that He will meet my every need. This, He has pledged to do through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns forever. He will do the same for you.
I hope these great truths will lift you above your circumstances if you ever come to that time of need. Whatever you are facing, God is greater. May God use this special time of year to remind you of this and strengthen you in your service to our great King Jesus.