Hope in Conflict.
“Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. For Strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul. Selah. Behold, God is my helper: the LORD is with them that uphold my soul.” (Psalm 54:2,3,4)
Ever feel like your soul is under attack from the heaviness of the world around? I do! We have three stated enemies. The world, the flesh, and the Devil; plus, we have thousands of less significant adversaries that either openly assail us or covertly pick away at our very being. This warfare is severe some days or seasons and just plain irritating during others. Our family has experienced the whole spectrum of attack from the extreme emotional stress of losing loved ones to cancer, war in Congo, or the loss of mental health to the simpler, to even the irritation of being caught up in church politics or financial difficulties.
David begins this section of scripture with a plea: he begs God to give him his ear and listen to his prayer. Maybe a good first strategy is making sure that we are tuned in to God and that God is paying attention to our situation. Prayer should not be a last resort, the last tool that we pull out of our tool bag. The second point David makes is to define the specifics of the attack. First, he speaks of outward war, the attack of people from another country. David is the great warrior-king. He led battles against hosts from surrounding countries. But in addition to his obvious battles, he speaks of those who oppress his soul. Oppress means to persecute, abuse, repress, suppress, subjugate or enslave. Do we have enemies that oppress us? Am I enslaved or abused or repressed by the smaller enemies in my life?
Sometimes the daily attacks from these smaller enemies are more effective in damaging our souls than the outright attacks of the more obvious enemies. David’s third strategy is to declare God as his helper and to place a blessing on his team of supporters. David prays for God to be with those that “uphold his soul.” David realized the value of have a unit of supportive, loyal people in his life. Not only those who are physically experienced to fight those overt enemies, but also those who are emotionally and spiritually skilled enough to uphold his soul and its needs.
I’m a great fan of building that support team before the need for it arises. We all face different battles at different seasons. Sometime, those seasons take us by surprise. How will I be able to handle those surprises if I have no team in place to uphold my soul? We all need this type of team: those perpetually drowning people barely holding each other up by constantly treading water. Treading water, sometimes for years during seasons of hardship, makes these exhausted people strong. They have the opportunity to feed hope into their fellow sufferers and grant strength and courage for the struggle.
Do I have such a team? Yes! Do you?