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Psalm 116
Comfort in Persistence

1 I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
4 Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.
5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
6 The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.
7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.
8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
9 I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
10 I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:
11 I said in my haste, All men are liars.
12 What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?
13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.
14 I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
16 O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.
18 I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people,
19 In the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord.

The two opening verses of this Psalm speak of the writer’s determination to follow God. The Lord heard him when he cried out for help. In his words, “thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” (verse 8). Having acknowledged this, the Psalmist again expresses his determination to walk with God. “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (verse 9). In his sorrows, pains, trouble and afflictions, he found God. As was noted in another chapter, God was there for him at all times. He just needed to recognize the fact that he could go to the Lord at all times. When the Psalmist saw how great God had been to him in all of his difficulties, he stated his intention to be persistent in relying on the One who could deliver him in his struggles.

Again, this is noted in another chapter but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that God is there for us at all times just as He was for this inspired writer. The question is, “Are we looking for God at all times?” In our struggles, will we continue to try to handle them alone or will we turn to the God of all comfort?

In Luke’s Gospel account we find two powerful parables illustrating the importance of persistence. In Luke 11:1-13 we find Jesus’ disciples coming to Him with a request to teach them how to pray. He proceeded to give them the essentials of acceptable prayer in what is often titled, “The Lord’s Prayer, but would be better called, “The Disciples’ Prayer.” Having said that, Jesus added an important component of prayer in verses five through eight when He gave an example of a person who continually asked a friend for something that he needed and eventually received it. The important component was and is persistence.

The other parable in Luke’s account is in Luke 18:1-8. There Jesus tells of a woman who went over and over to a judge whom she trusted could handle a matter for her that she needed to have handled.  In the parable, the judge granted her request. Verse eight asks a thought provoking question. “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” In other words, will the Lord see this type of persistence in the spiritual realm? Will those who claim to follow God through Christ be determined enough to go to Him at all times and in all situations? The comfort is there, as is the peace, the joy, the hope, the strength. Will we persist in our pursuit of God’s blessings?

Life’s challenges afford us abundant opportunity to show our faith in God, not only to others and to God Himself, but to ourselves as well. Have you ever wondered what you would do in a certain situation? Maybe you’ve been at the side of one who is struggling and either said or thought to yourself, “I don’t know what I’d do if I were in your shoes.” Not that we’re looking for troubles, but when they do come (and they will), we are able to see for ourselves what we will do, but also we are able to see for ourselves just how faithful the Lord can be to us if we will be faithful to Him. It’s that persistence in the good times that aids us in being persistent in tough times.

It’s interesting, but certainly not coincidental, that this Psalm contains the passage often heard at funerals. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (verse 15). In the context of a Psalm that shows the writer’s commitment to God and God’s commitment to him, this verse bespeaks the ultimate comfort that is found in turning to God. While on earth, the Psalmist realized God’s comfort in a variety of situations. This life of daily faithfulness to God finds its reward in death. Rather than defeat, saints of God find victory in passing from this life to the next. “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:54-57).

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