Many times throughout the psalms, we read the words of a desperate leader, crying out to God amid heartache. In fact, nearly 40 percent of the psalms contain lament language. They wrote of miserable circumstances and seemed to often be living in dark times. So, why do you think the psalmists appeared depressed much of the time?
We may wonder about the weary words of the psalms, but their heartache is more prevalent in our lives today than we realize. As Christians, we should be surprised when we find ourselves living in complete abundance and ease. Psalm 31 offers a glimpse into David’s aching heart. Although he believed in God’s goodness and might, he still questioned the chaos that surrounded him. His fear often outweighed his trust and belief, and that’s the case with us, too. As we navigate the chaos that often accompanies the planting of churches, we can be tempted to fear and unbelief.
It’s easy to trust God when things are going great, but when they turn awry, this becomes more difficult. Here are two truths from Psalm 31 that encourage steadfast endurance for church planters.
God Protects You
The word “refuge” appears four times in Psalm 31. David was fearful of his enemies’ attack and felt their approach was imminent. But he still recognized the refuge of the Lord. Also mentioned in this psalm are words like “fortress” and “rock,” signifying the strength and assurance of God’s protection. This does have theological implications, but when David wrote Psalm 31, it was much more personal and practical. He faced real physical danger, so he trusted God to be his actual refuge and fortress in the face of his enemies. Just as David longed for protection, church planters ache for security, too. The answer to that longing is found in the cross of Christ—he took on our greatest enemy and declared us safe. Click To Tweet
Just as David longed for protection, church planters ache for security, too. The answer to that longing is found in the cross of Christ—he took on our greatest enemy and declared us safe. So when unkind words are hurled at you by those you trusted, take heart and abide in Christ. When enemies surround you and neighbors betray you, remember that your hope and stay is in Christ alone. We’re protected and safe in Christ, the rock of our salvation.
God Provides for You
When we find ourselves in hardship, we’re tempted to look elsewhere for encouragement and provision. David acknowledges this as he wrote, “For your name’s sake you lead me and guide me” (Ps. 31:3). He knew it was both God’s protection and his provision that would deliver him. We’re often looking to other sources to lead and guide us as we launch and lead our churches, but God offers the best direction for our weary hearts.
Do you feel uncertain about the future? As church planters and pastors, we’re bound to face daunting seasons of transition in ministry. People leave your church, you may change meeting places and times, you could face strife with your community, and the list goes on. But these changes are not new to God, as he’s led you where you are for his good purposes.
We must turn away from seeking the approval of others in unhealthy ways. Our deep longing for comfort, protection, and provision can only be filled by God. When we care too much about others’ opinions, our focus moves from God to ourselves. But this isn’t the way for us. Our weakness is made perfect in his strength, and by Christ’s wounds, we are healed and protected.
Glory to Our God
Notice what David wrote in Psalm 31:21, “Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.” He reflects on God’s love four times in this psalm, and ends it with a doxology of praise. Amid the threats David faced and the enemies pursuing him, he still knew the deep love of God. He recognized that without God’s steadfast love, he didn’t stand a chance. We’re often looking to other sources to lead and guide us as we launch and lead our churches, but God offers the best direction for our weary hearts. Click To Tweet
God doesn’t leave his people alone—his love abounds further than our fear and failure. David finished his psalm with an exhortation to “love the LORD, all you his saints!” (Ps. 31:23). We’re called to abide in God’s love, no matter our circumstances. In his sovereignty, God loves, protects, and provides far beyond what we think we need.
Many psalmists lamented their hardship, but they recognized that God was present through every trial. May we be church planters, pastors, and leaders who seek to glorify God no matter what comes our way.