Crying Out For God

If you have been around children for any amount of time, the words “oh for crying out loud” have come out of your mouth at one point or another. Have you ever really stopped to think about that phrase? I mean, seriously, what does it really mean? When you say it, it usually has something to do with crying, fussing, whining, griping, arguing, fighting…I could go on, but I won’t. Pretty, much it’s ridiculous. That’s my take on the whole saying.

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email. Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston , a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: October 16, 2005

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I've seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then!!!! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P. S. Sure is really hot down here!!!!

Today’s sermon is titled Crying Out For God and for various reasons, we cry out for God at any given moment in our lives. We’ll take a look at Psalm 84:1-7 today and extend a little through the rest of the Psalm as well. If you would follow along with me.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you. Selah
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

Psalms is one of my favorite books in the Bible. I never really did like poetry much when I was a kid. When I sat down to rhyme what I was thinking it always turned out horrid. It ended up being silly or not making sense. I enjoy it now because I realize that I am by no means a poet, but those who wrote the Psalm are masterful at utilizing words.

Right out of the starting gate, the Psalmist is talking about, what was then the temple of the Lord. Jerusalem was the place where God’s temple was built and God promised that he would dwell there. The Psalmist is talking about how wonderful and holy that place truly is. The Psalmist’s describes his soul wanting to be with God. Not only this, but he uses two words here that seemed to me to be a little confusing.

So, as is my custom, as you well know, I looked into different translations and root languages to figure it all out. After looking at about 6 different translations, I found the NIV was one of many versions that use the word faint as the second word to describe a feeling. The KJV, NRSV, NKJV, and ESV, use the word longs then faints. The NIV uses the words yearns then faints. I really do not think the word faints does what the Psalmist is trying to get at justice here. I think the NASB is right on in this portion of Scripture. It uses the words longs then yearns. Faint puts a negative spin on the Scripture and in this context means to lose heart. I do not think that is what the author was getting at. The original languages mean to long and then to be completed. It’s even like saying ‘my soul longs, even persistently for the courts of the Lord. The Psalmist is trying to get at how all the time he wants to be with the Lord where he is. Even our hearts and flesh cry out for him. Unfortunately when translating, sometimes there are no perfect words to describe what the original language says so perfectly.

Does your heart long for God persistently? I think sometimes in life we get down and out and yearn to be with God where he is instead of being here on Earth. Let’s study on.

The Psalmist goes on to say how even the lowliest of creatures have a place near God. Some of the translations here use sparrow because a sparrow as seen as the weakest and most timid of all birds. Sparrows are seen, as my grandpa put it, as “the pest of the bird world”. Surely if the bird can find a place near God, we can too.

Have you ever felt like someone was closer to God than you? Someone who you thought was either a new Christian or even not a Christian at all? Sometimes in the hardest moments in our lives it feels as if God is nowhere to be found.

Now, verse 4 refers to the pilgrimage to the temple once a year to offer the sacrifices. There are priests who reside within the temple at all times. Having grown up Catholic, it is not hard to imagine priests residing in the church at all times. In the church I grew up in, the parsonage was attached to the church and the priests lived there. They were always there taking confessions and doing their priestly duties. That is sort of what the priests did back then. Only once a year, they were really busy with everyone’s sacrifices, although they did have purity duties among other things to do throughout the year.

The next section actually talks about the pilgrimage and how God’s strength resides within those who have their heart and soul set on the pilgrimage to the temple of the Lord. It even talks about how their physical strength is talked about in verse 7. It says they go from strength to strength. Both words are the same word in the original language, only with a slight difference. The difference is the latter time is an emphasis on the glottal pause in the word and it takes it to an absolute. What this means, I believe is that the Lord is reinforcing the strength of those who are making this pilgrimage.

It is so interesting to study the old traditions of the Hebrew people and relating it to us today. The discussion of the Psalmist is essential to our walk today.

Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes our hearts long for God in times when we don’t feel like he’s close. Maybe we had what we thought were unanswered prayers, going through times when we just don’t think God is there.

Unlike when the Psalmist wrote this, we have the promise of the Holy Spirit, which is one part of the Triune God. What they even did have then, was this promise. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Indeed. God will never leave us. God, nor Jesus, nor will the Holy Spirit leave us or forsake us. God always keeps his promises, unlike us. We as humans promise things all the time that we know we cannot keep. A promise, in reality, is only something that God can keep. We cannot be for sure that we will be able to keep it. When God makes a promise however, we can be sure that it will happen.

You see, God promises that he will not leave or forsake us, and even during the times when you feel alone the most, God is right there with you. It’s during these times when it feels as if the non-Christian is even closer to God than we are. Maybe we’re going through family issues, a personal crisis, dealing with issues from our childhood, or whatever the case is, we feel like we’ve been abandoned by God. In reality, we have walked away from him.

It’s not that we have literally walked away from God, we’ve walked away from our devotion in our prayer life, reading the Word daily, meditating or whatever it is that we do to draw closer to God. When we get caught up in a difficult situation, we seem to abandon the things that keep us solid most times.

When I was going through my rough period, I was running away from God because I did not want to hear what I needed to. What I needed to do was embrace my faith, prayer and meditation and follow God. I was tired of my life not going right. I was struggling in every aspect of my life. My situation was unique however. I had made my own bed, I had to lie in it. Most times however, we cannot help our situation.

A majority of women who have been emotionally, physically or sexually abused have issues with God and the idea of him. Most turn to Christianity during or after recovery, but they struggle with the basic idea of God. In these cases, they wonder why God didn’t make the abuse go away, they wonder why the pain and anguish doesn’t go away after the fact. This is the type of walking away from God that most of us experience. Doubt. We sincerely doubt and question God and his character. They doubt his ability to do what it is that he says he can do.

For those who feel like this now or have felt like this in the past; also, everyone keep this in mind because we may feel this in the future. This passage is perfect for us today because it says that God’s strength is with those who are on His pilgrimage. No, we don’t make our way to Jerusalem once a year, but we are on God’s pilgrimage. We have accepted Christ and God’s Holy Spirit resides within us, because we ARE the temple of God. We are indeed holy, because God resides in us. We are God’s house and we have the reassurance of Deuteronomy 31:6 that once we have God, he will not leave us.

Finally, our strength goes from a physical strength without God to a more Godly strength that supplements us during the times when we don’t think we can continue on. If we are able to keep practicing the spiritual disciplines that keep us close to God during those times when it is tough, it just might enable us to fight through our tough times.

Take each day, one at a time, and don’t be afraid to Cry Out For God.

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