How to Think in a Crisis | March 28-29, 2020
Series: Prayers for this Moment – Kenton Beshore
Sermon Transcription – start at 22:05
That is so good. Well, welcome to Mariners Church online. And we’re so glad that you’re here. While we’re all staying at home making huge changes to our life, believing and hoping that it’s going to make a difference. But we all have questions. This week I got to spend time on conference calls with pastors all around the nation and they had huge questions and they’re going, “What do we do at times like this?”
They asked me, they go, I guess because I’m old. They go, “You’ve lived through the financial turnarounds in the 70s, the 80s, 90s, 2008, the great recession and now this, times of national crisis, earthquakes, wildfires … what can we, what do you know? What answers do you have? And well, I didn’t have many answers and this is a unique time where we have a global pandemic and then a financial crisis. And at the same time we have to stay at home. Our kids are at home, we’re working from home and there is so much stress.
But there are two things that I thought that are powerful that we do know at this moment. One, is that we know that while everything changes in our world, we have a God who never changes. The God who loves us and cares for us. He’s the same yesterday, today and he will be the same tomorrow.
And also at the same time, at these moments of huge concern and insecurity, there are moments like this that also give us the opportunity to help us have clarity on what’s most important in our life. What are the things that we can hold onto and trust, and what are the things that are simply not trustworthy and we can’t base our life on. One pastor in Indiana asked me, he said, “My people need certainty. I need to give them certainty. What can I give them that is certain?”
And I said to them, “I don’t know that you can give your people certainty, but you can give them clarity.” And that’s really what God’s word gives us. It gives us clarity in times of confusion. Think of it this way. Imagine you’re watching a football game and it’s the 4th quarter. There’s only 3-4 seconds left in the game. It’s the very last play. And the team’s down like on the 4 yard line and so they call timeout.
One team goes to the side, the quarterback talks to the coach. He has a play. He comes on, the defensive captain calls the play, and so on the field, everyone knows what the play is on offense and they have absolute clarity. There is no certainty as to whether the play will work, but they have absolute clarity. And in this time, while we can’t have certainty, we can have clarity on certain things.
Today, we can have clarity on how we need to think because God’s word gives us truth to live by. Today I want you to think about what it means to be clear on faith and on love. Faith is an important thing. In Hebrews 11:1, it says, “Faith is the confidence of what we hope for will actually happen.”
Hope is just a wish. We hope that the virus will go away. We hope that markets will return. We hope. We hope. We have a lot of hopes. But they’re just sort of wishes. But faith is when hope so moves to the confidence that something will be so. Then he goes on and it says, it gives us assurance about things that we cannot see. Faith, the opposite of faith is not fear. The opposite of faith is sight. When you can see something, you don’t have to have any faith. And so, he says, it gives us the assurance of things that we cannot see.
So how does hope so come to the place where we have the confidence that something will be so. It’s simple, it happens all the time in life. You can hope that you’re going to have, that somebody will make you brownies tonight, not you can hope that you’ll have brownies, hope that you’ll have brownies, hope that you have brownies. But it’s not until the baker in your family says, “I’ll make brownies tonight” that you have the confidence that it will be so.
And that’s the way it is with faith. Faith is a confidence that God is who He says He is, and He will do the things that He said He will do. Faith is when you take a hold of one of God’s promises and you believe that it will be so. And that’s what faith is.
And our need at this point in our life is to trust in the promises of God. It resolves and we can have clarity at that moment. Then the second thing is love. The opposite of fear is love. It says in 1 John (4:18), “such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear.” When we are overwhelmed with fear, and we don’t know what to do, we need to fill our hearts with God’s love.
And so today, what I want to do is I want us to look at what faith looks like when we don’t know, when we’re uncertain, we can’t see the future. We need to hold on to faith. And then what does it mean to embrace love and have God’s love in our life? So we’re going to look at two Psalms. Psalms 62 and Psalm 63, and these Psalms were written by David at the same time in his life.
In fact, he was in the same situation in his life. He was in the wilderness, in the desert. What happened is David, he had problems in his family and he never really resolved them. In fact, he let them go and they were so painful that his son, Absalom, absolutely hated his father. He wanted to destroy his father. He wanted to take his father out as King.
And so what he did is that he would meet people just outside the city gates. And as they came, because they needed justice, he would meet these people and say, “My father’s too busy. He doesn’t care about what you care about. If I was King, I would care about your needs. I would give you justice. But he’s just too busy to give you justice.” And he did this every day for four years, and he won, over this time, the people’s hearts.
And so, people began to believe that Absalom would make a better King. And so, he got an army together and he led a coup. And ultimately, his father David had to run and flee from the city of Jerusalem out into the wilderness. He lost his position, he lost his wealth, he lost his family, he was away from his friends and he was in the desert alone. And in those kind of moments when we are alone and we’re uncertain, and there’s extreme pain, we have the opportunity to get clarity in our life.
What really matters? What can we rest on? What is most important? And so David reflects in his life and he writes down what he thinks, because he has a moment of clarity. And so, he reads or he writes down in Psalm 62, and he contrasts two times in his life, two seasons of his life. When he lived as a God alone person, where he lived by faith. And then the other side is when he lived as a God and person, where he lived by sight, what he could hold onto and what he could see.
And so he reflects on this. And so I’m going to read Psalm 62 (62:1,2,5-8) to you, and you can see in this part how he focuses on God alone. He says, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken … I find rest in God alone. In God alone, my hope comes from him. He is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge.”
David reflects on a time in his life before he was King, when he was a shepherd, before he defeated Goliath and all the success in his life. And he says, “In those days, I was a God alone person. My soul found rest in God alone. I trusted in God alone. I was unshakeable. It was clear that God was in control and that I could trust Him. That He was loving and that He was good.”
And he said, “I remember in that time of my life, God promised that I would be King. And for 20 years, I waited for God to fulfill that promise. And even though there were good times and there were extreme bad times during that season, I trusted in God. And even when I had the opportunity to take out King Saul,” that Eric talked about two weeks ago, he said, “I didn’t take it because I was willing to trust in God’s timing and that God was good and he would take care of me and provide for me. And in those days I had the freedom of trusting in God. I lived with peace and security. There was no worry or anxiety.”
But he said, “Over time, and I’m not sure even how I did it, but I began to trust in the things that I could see. I began to trust in God and my wisdom. Trust in God and in my desires. Trust in God and my timing. I wanted things when I wanted them, and the results were in my life,” David said, “Is that I became nervous and anxious. I became impatient and I began to cut corners and I compromised, and the results in my life of trusting in myself is that there was heartbreak and defeat and instability, and I brought so much pain into my life and to other people’s lives.”
But he says in the Psalm, “When I was a God alone person,” he says,” God alone was my rock, my salvation, my fortress. He was the place of safety. I felt secure. I trusted God. I would go up against a giant like Goliath and there was no problem. I had no doubts because I knew that God was with me. And in those days my heart would burst with worship.”
“I would say the Lord is my shepherd. And so, I had everything that I needed. He led me beside still waters. He led me into green pastures and he restored my soul. He guided me in the path of righteousness for his namesake. And even when I went through the most challenging and frightening moments of life, I wasn’t afraid because God was with me. In those days, I was a God alone person and I felt safe and secure. I trusted in God alone.”
But as he reflects, he says, “But over time, and he says, even without thinking, I began to trust in things that I could see. And I became a God and person. I trusted in God and the size of my army. I trusted in God and the size of the walls of the city that I had built. I trusted in God and my accomplishments, God and my wealth.”
And as a result he says, and really he was surprised. He said, “It surprises me that this God and approach to life made me insecure and unstable. And when I faced challenges, I faced giants. I was overwhelmed with fear and I was frightened and I tremble.” He says, “When I was a God alone person,” he says, “I would say that God alone is my salvation. My honor comes from Him. He delivers. And He is my hope. When I lived as a God alone person, I lived to please God alone. I knew that all of my honor came from God, but over time, I became a popular King and I was recognized and there was fame that I had.”
“And the applause of people slowly began to change me. At first, it was something that I enjoyed, but then it was something that I wanted. And finally the applause of people became something that I needed, and I lost sight of what was most important. And as a God and person, I wanted to please God and I wanted to hear the applause of people. And I got neither. And as a result, I was destroyed.” And you can hear the pain in his life
In Psalm 62 (62:3,4,9,10), look at what he says. He says, “So many enemies against one man. All of them trying to kill me. To them, I’m just a broken down wall or a tottering fence. They plan to topple me from my high position. They delight in telling lies about me. They praise me to my face, but they curse me in their hearts … Common people are as worthless as a puff of wind, and the powerful people are not what they appear to be. If you weigh them on the scales, together they are lighter than a breath of the air. Don’t make your living by extortion or put your hope in stealing. And if all your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life.”
He speaks with conviction at this point of his life and he’s saying, “I’ve discovered that to live as a God alone person is the only way to live.” And then finally he concludes the Psalm (62:11-12) this way. He says, “One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, O God, are strong and that you, O Lord are loving.” He says, “I am going to live as a God alone person and trust that God is strong and God is loving.”
And you know, when we read this Psalm, every one of us could write this Psalm in our own words, because we’ve all lived this life. All of us have lived in a season of our life where we lived as God alone people and we would say, “God alone. My soul finds rest in God alone. That I trust in him. I trust in him with my future. I trust him with my family, my health, my wealth. I trusted him in every area of my life.”
“I was convinced that he was powerful. I knew that he was loving and I could trust him wherever, and as a result of that, I experienced freedom and peace. There were seasons in my life where I said, God alone is my rock, my fortress. He is a good shepherd that will take care of me and provide for me and love me and I can trust him even in the most difficult and challenging moments of life. Whatever giants I faced, I would trust in God alone. And that I was so radically secure in his love that I would hold onto his promises in the most difficult moments in life.”
But all of us could write, just like David did, that second stanza where he says, “But you know what? I became a God and person. I began to trust in God and my wealth. Trust in God and my resources. I thought that I could love God and love this world. That I would want to serve God and I would want to serve myself and my selfish desires.”
I would want to please God and I thought I could please others at the same time, and I found out exactly what David did, that a God and lifestyle only leads to pain and sadness and destruction. In 2 Corinthians (4:18), it says, “So we don’t look at the troubles that we can see now.” See that’s sight and it only overwhelms us, “rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things that we see now will soon be gone, but the things that we cannot see will last forever.”
And David says in the Psalm, “There are two things that I know. I know that God is strong and I know that he is loving.” And, in this moment, this tragic and difficult moment in his life, he takes a hold of these two truths and he has clarity.
And you know, one of the things that I think that you could do today, and I did all of this week, is literally write this Psalm in our own words. Because I think what made it powerful for David isn’t that he just thought this Psalm, but he took the time to write it and in writing it, it developed that conviction in his heart and brought that clarity.
And you could write the Psalm. All of us could write this Psalm that later today you could just use Psalm 62 as an outline. The first stanza is that my soul finds rest in God alone. How would you put that in your own words? That God alone is my rock, my refuge, my safe place, that God alone is the one who saves me and delivers me. And when you think about those seasons in your life, you’ll remember how trusting him gave you confidence and security that you felt like you were in the right place because you were trusting in God alone.
But in the second stanza, all of us have seasons in our life where we became God and people. We said, “I trusted God and my wealth. I trusted God and my business. I thought God and all of these things in life, and as a result I was insecure and I was anxious and I lived a worried life.” But David says, if we can write as a conclusion like David did, “but there are two things that I know. I know that God is good, and I know that God is powerful.” He is loving, and these two things, we can have clarity even in the most uncertain times in our life.
And then David not only wrote Psalm 62 when he was alone in the desert, but he also wrote Psalm 63. And when he focuses on Psalm 63 (63:1), he’s really focusing on God’s love. He says, “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.”
David realizes when he’s in the desert, there is no water that can quench the thirst of his soul. And so he goes on, he says, (Psalm 63:3-5) “Your unfailing love is better than life; how I praise you.” And he says, “… lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than anything else in life.” And so, he writes this song about God’s love. When you are filled with fear, the answer in your life needs to be God’s love. You need to be reminded about how God loves you, and you need to write a Psalm like David did about God’s love.
You know God’s love, I mean all of us, even though we were broken and we rebelled against God, we ran from God. God loved us too much to leave us that way. I mean, we infected our own lives with the disease of sin and it destroyed all of us. It’s 100% death. And so God loved us too much. And so he showed up in the person of Jesus Christ and he became like us. So he understands what it feels like to be alone, to feel lost, to have unanswered prayers, to feel insecure and weak.
And he came to this world and ultimately, he knew the only way to rescue us was to take the virus of sin that was killing us. And he went to the cross and he died the death that we were already dying to give us the life that we could never have on our own. And so, he died destroying the power of sin to give us life and health, to give us love and forgiveness and to give us the power that we need for life.
And so, we can do what it says in Hebrews (4:15-16). We have “This high priest of ours who understands all of our weaknesses for he faced all of the same testings we do. Yet, he did not sin. So let us come boldly into the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it the most.”
When you are overwhelmed by fear, we need to do what David did. We need to write a Psalm to God, our Psalm. A Psalm about God’s love, where we write, “Oh God, you are my God. I searched for you. I long for you. I need you more than anything else in life. That your unfailing love is what satisfies me. It is the only thing that does.” And when we write a Psalm, when we take that time like David did, to write about God’s love or to write about God’s goodness and to hold onto his promises.
When we hold onto God’s promises, when we have an uncertain future, we have faith. When we hold onto God’s love, we do not live with fear. We can write these Psalms and experience what David did and we can, even in moments of uncertainty, have absolute clarity of his love and his strength in our lives. Pray with me.
Father, we are so grateful that you are a God that is loving, and that you are a God who is powerful. And God, it is true, we are weak and small and we are broken and we have nowhere else to turn. But God, you are loving, and you are good, and these truths hold us and sustain us in the most challenging and difficult moments in life. God, would you give us and remind us your love and God would you fill us with your grace? We ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.