Whether in times past or in these current days, faithful believers were and are beset on every side by those who oppose God. The enemy is all around; he plots – schemes – plans; he lies awake at night envisioning how he can cause trouble for those he hates. More specifically, his dreams are to depose God Himself because He is inconvenient. By taking out God’s followers, such a person thinks that he will eliminate God.
The psalmists wrote of this kind of situation often. In Psalm 43:3, the question that’s posed reflects this:
… “Where is your God?”
The prior psalm speaks of how these wicked ones come against those who love God. Psalm 41:5 states:
My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die, and his name perish?”
David describes this attitude further in Psalm 41:8:
They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him;
he will not rise again from where he lies.”
There is no good will in anyone like this. We can pray for them, but we have nothing in common.
When Paul came to Jerusalem and was held by the Roman guard after the religious Jews stirred up many to oppose him, he was eventually brought before the Roman occupying governor, Felix. The Jews had a silver-tongued lawyer named Tertullus make the case that Paul had profaned God and all that the Jews stood for. In Tertullus’ oratory, he didn’t say one thing that wasn’t a lie or deceitful. It was a magnificent example of Satan being his father and the father of lies, in that when he opened his mouth nothing but lies poured forth.
This didn’t ruffle Paul in the least. He knew His God. He understood who was in charge. He had the truth. In Acts 24:13 he simply stated this:
“Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me.”
While waiting for this “court” date with Felix, Paul could well have wrestled with the Lord. Just because at the point of meeting his accusers he had no doubt that God would prevail, in the hours prior he could certainly have expressed what Psalm 42:5-6 says:
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you…
Paul could have felt put upon such that his soul was downcast. But then, remembering His God and the salvation he had through his Savior, he would have praised the Lord. It would have been this that gave him peace and assurance in his time of trouble.
Isn’t that a good lesson for us? Our enemies surround us; they are extremely persistent. Fueled by Satan’s hatred of God which they have appropriated, their time is short. On the human plane, they may not realize this; but Satan knows. He understands that he must defeat God before His plans are brought to fruition.
By remaining clear-eyed and cognizant of the Scriptures, we can come before our loving heavenly Father in the righteousness of Christ with which He cloaks us. Because of our position as God’s children, we have favor in His presence. When we desire more of God, and seek His face, we become like that person described in Psalm 42:1-2:
As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
With our hearts for God, there is nothing that inhibits Him to move in our lives and in the circumstances around us. We can be confident in our brokenness and humility that He will act with favor toward us.
That may mean deliverance from our enemies in this life, or it may mean seeing the judgment God enacts upon them at a future time. The one thing we know is that which is expressed in Psalm 42:8:
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
We have nothing to fear. This is why Paul stood resolute in the face of his false accusers. It is why we likewise can take up the armor of God and withstand all the poison darts that the enemy throws at us.
Praise the Lord that we have this hope, and no need for our soul to be downcast!