Near the end of Book 3 in the Psalms (43-89), several Psalms read like cries for help by writers at the end of their rope. In Psalm 86:14, for example, David writes: “O God, insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seeks my life, and they do not set you before them.” While the exact circumstance is unclear, David knows there is a wide conspiracy against him, and his only hope is to turn to God. The Psalm opens with “Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.”
Likewise, when we feel desperate and don’t know where to turn, these Psalms remind us that God will never turn us away. On Psalm 86 John Calvin comments that “the more severely any one is oppressed, and the more destitute he is of the resources of human aid, the more inclined is God graciously to help him. That despair therefore may not overwhelm our minds under our greatest afflictions, let us support ourselves from the consideration that the Holy Spirit has dictated this prayer for the poor and the afflicted.” In other words, because these Psalms are in the Bible, we can be sure that, no matter the mess our own choices or the actions of others have put us in, God in His steadfast love will listen.
Throughout the Psalm, David writes reminders of the character and works of God as a contrast to both his circumstances and his feelings of futility. Like him we must always remember that our character is never so bad that God loving us is inconsistent with His character, and that our circumstances are never so bad that loving us is beyond His power to achieve.
Even for the most desperate, there is always a way out, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” In Psalm 86, David does not just pray for a miraculous deliverance, but in verse 11, David looks for the way of escape: “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” A united heart is one that feels no anxiety because it knows it is seeking God’s will and willing to act on it based on reverence for Him. God may urge us to merely wait for His deliverance, or prod us to actions we may not expect, but in all cases, He knows the way, because He is the Way. Only He can unite our hearts.
Bring your desperate anxiety to Him and let Him show you the way forward. When all you have is God, He is enough. When you feel your faith is weak because you can’t see or feel God in your life or the world around you, begin with “Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy,” and He will listen.
One thought on “When All You Have is God”
I will incline my ear because He is the Way. Thanks, Todd, for the reminder.