“Forget Not His Benefits”

Steve Keller

Many areas of our lives have changed radically in recent months. Yes, we can definitely say that the coronavirus situation has had a huge and mostly undesirable influence on every aspect of our lives. While we thought and hoped it would only be for a short time, it is slowly dawning on us that we have to get used to a “new normal”; that is, with many limitations and uncertainties.

External influences have also had a major impact on our work in the missions field. Though we are now again able to carry out quite a few of our events, in some cases the requirements are hardly feasible or too costly. In addition, we cannot with confidence plan for either immediate or long-term activities. These circumstances can place additional burdens on us privately, professionally and in ministry.

Some time ago, I saw a t-shirt with the following words printed on it: “I am too blessed to be stressed.” After a brief chuckle I went on, but the message of this statement stayed with me. I was reminded of Psalm 103; immediately, I asked myself this question: what do we focus on when circumstances weigh us down, as we are probably feeling at the present time? In verse 2 of this Psalm it says: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”

Yes, isn’t it true: in good times we unfortunately often forget that the Lord is the source of our blessings. But in harder times, we are also apt to forget how much the Lord has blessed us.

I don’t know under what circumstances David wrote this Psalm, but he takes the time to list the good things the Lord did for him. And, he doesn’t stop there; he looks ahead and describes what other great blessings the Lord has in store. This confidence results in a testimony of the might and grace of our Lord. And this in turn shows why we are so blessed by the Lord and may expect further blessings.

Verse 19 states: “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” He is not subject to our circumstances; He is above them and reigns over them. This certainly is liberating and comforting, for our Lord is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Everything surrounding us may be uncertain, but He is our security.

In chapter 16 of the Acts of the Apostles, we find a wonderful example of this spiritual mindset of Psalm 103. Acts 16:23 reveals how Paul and Silas could not be deterred from praising God despite their great distress. In the dark prison, their feet fastened in the stocks, they found no rest at midnight. Such a situation would certainly not elicit feelings of happiness, even within these men of God. Whining and complaining would have been an understandable reaction. However, they rejected that. Because external circumstances and their inner restlessness kept them from sleeping, they used the darkest hour of the night, in the darkest place of their captivity, to praise God. This was heard not only by the other prisoners, but also by God, who answered with an earthquake. As a result, the jailer and his whole family were saved and baptized.

If we focus on God’s blessings despite stressful circumstances and give thanks for them, we can be a testimony like Paul and Silas. And, it is more than certain that the Lord will make us a blessing within our environment.

Midnight Call - 10/2020

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