6/12/2013 6:00:00 AM SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON/A Blessed Assurance
By REV. DONALD CAVINESS
"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me." (Psalm 57:1-2)
There is an oft repeated phrase to be found in Bodie Thoene's The Zion Covenant that fits well with these powerful words of David, the psalmist and king. Set amid all the pain and confusion and danger and destruction of evil Nazi Germany, her central character, Elisa (a Jewish believer), often is heard repeating to herself one firm belief: "What God has done is rightly done!" No matter the circumstances - even when all seemed dark and all beauty and decency seemed to have departed her world - Elisa reminded herself that God still reigned over heaven and earth and whatsoever He chose to do, would be done rightly.
Now, let me ask you - with what measure of certainty and assurance can you - today - right now - affirm the same? Oh, I know how easy it is for us to say something like this when life is good and everything seems to be working out in our favor - days when the sun is shining and no cloud can be seen on the horizon - days when the bills get paid on time and none of the children call up with urgent needs for our assistance and we get a clean bill of health following our doctor's visit and the dentist finds no cavities and the dog doesn't bite the mailman. Perhaps on those days we can feel pretty safe in uttering some confidence that God, by His Providence, does all things rightly by us -- but what about all the other days?
Notice the context of David's affirmation - in the midst of a destructive storm. The title of this Psalm tells us that David was thinking of those awful days when he was forced to live in exile, fleeing from the king (Saul) who sought to kill him. He remembered those times when he (and his men) hid themselves in caves, safely shielded from the searching eyes of their enemy. It was by means of those difficult times that David learned something valuable about Providence and came to esteem his God, not only as a Refuge, but as One who does all things 'rightly' for him.
That's precisely what he tells us in verse 2 of our text: "I cry out . . . to God who fulfills his purpose for me." The word David employs here speaks of the 'performance' of God - all the things He 'accomplishes' in our world that touch our lives. But the truly neat thing about the word is that it stems from a root verb that means 'to perfect'. That is to say, this word has reference to something that is done (finished) and done well - better than that - it is done 'perfectly well'. In other words, not one detail has been left unattended. God has not stopped short in any way to accomplish His intended purpose. He has withheld none of His Wisdom or Power, but whatsoever He Willed or Purposed to accomplish - He did so, and the result was perfect! This is the same thought David expresses in Psalm 138 where we read: "Though I walk in the midst of trouble . . . The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me".
Now, let me ask you another question - What care or concern of the believer, do you suppose, might be expected to fall outside the parameters of God's perfecting Providence? Let me give you the right answer - Not a single one! What part of the life of the believer might we imagine to exist in a vacuum - so as to be untouched by this beneficial design of God's Providence? Not one part! The Westminster Child's Catechism rightly responds to the question (#13) "Can God do all things? - Yes, God can do all His holy Will." David knew that to be true. But he knew something else that many of us have forgotten - that God's Will (and therefore all His Wisdom and Power) is focused toward the accomplishing of all His holy purposes for each of His children. Therefore, He works Providentially to shape and mold the life of the believer and to fill it with the perfect combination of events and challenges and blessings and sorrows and pain and joy - so as to produce the very best (perfect) results - a perfection that certainly will benefit the believer but also (and ultimately) brings Glory to Himself.
This is our assurance - that all that comes to touch our lives, by His hand, is designed for our good and is purposed so as to open our eyes to the full beauty of His love, mercy and faithfulness toward us. Life's pressures and problems are designed to drive us into His embrace. Afflictions are chosen to instill in us an abiding hope in the wholeness of our healing in Him. The sting of injustices inflicted upon us is used to create within us a longing for the Justice of God to prevail over all Creation. Even our losses in life are blessed of God to create within a longing for that Day when all good-byes and sad farewells will be no more.
For sure, there are times when the best we can do is to hunker down in the shadow of His wings. There we trust and pray and wait for the storm (of God's choosing) to pass us by. But even then, what a joy it is for us to know that our God is sovereign over all things and worketh all things out for our good by His Providence. Listen, believer - your Heavenly Father will do all He has planned and purposed to do in your life - and it will be done to perfection! Say it with me: "What God has done is rightly done!"