May 4, 2018 • Life for Leaders
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
Psalm 107 reminds us to “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good” (107:1). The bulk of the psalm consists of four vignettes that illustrate God’s saving grace. Each one calls for our response of thanks and praise. Whether people were lost and hungry, chained in gloom, suffering from sin-induced illness, or tossed about in a stormy sea, the Lord demonstrated his “unfailing love” by delivering them.
The center of each vignette depicts a desperate prayer for God’s help: “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress” (107:6). This sentence appears three other times in Psalm 107 (see verses 13, 19, and 28), with minor stylistic variations. The cry for God’s help serves as the centerpiece of a familiar, common story: people were in deep trouble; they cried to the Lord; he saved them. God’s response to people’s cries for help provides a foundation for praise, not only from those who received the help, but also from all of God’s people.
Psalm 107 reminds us of times when we have cried out to God in desperation and God has answered. I can remember many such times: when my children were terribly sick, or when God seemed very distant or even non-existent, or when challenges at work overwhelmed me and sapped my strength, or… I could write my own version of Psalm 107 (and perhaps I should!). I expect you could do the same.
To be sure, there are times in life when we call out to God and find his answers to be painfully slow or not what we would like. Many psalms deal openly with the problem of God’s apparent silence (for example, Psalms 10 and 22). Therefore, we mustn’t turn the pattern of Psalm 107 into a mechanistic formula that governs God’s actions. Yet this psalm encourages us to reflect upon the times when God’s deliverance has been obvious and miraculous. When I remember how God reached out to me when I was filled with despair, when I think of how many different ways God has rescued me, then my heart gladly accepts the call of Psalm 107: “Let [us] give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for [us].” Remembering God’s goodness stirs us to offer thanks and praise, to worship the Lord with all that we are.
Something to Think About:
When have you been in a desperate situation, crying out to the Lord? What happened?
What are some of the major ways you have experienced God’s grace and mercy in your life?
Does the memory of God’s deliverance lead you to thanks and praise? If so, why? If not, why not?
Something to Do:
Take some time, perhaps this coming weekend, to write your own version of Psalm 107. Specifically, record times when you, in a difficult situation, cried out to God for help and God answered. Call yourself to thank and praise God for his goodness to you. Alternatively, if you’re in a small group, you may want to do this exercise together, sharing your experiences of God’s deliverance and thanking him in community.
Gracious God, all thanks and praise be to you because you are good. Your faithful love endures forever. Yes, Lord, you have redeemed me in the biggest way of all, and in countless other ways as well.
When I found my faith waning and could not prop it up with arguments and reasons, you reached out to make yourself known to me. How I praise you for your great love!
When I struggled with deep discouragement, bound in the darkness of my hopelessness, you reassured me with your presence and rescued me from my emotional chains. How I praise you for your great love!
When I wandered away from your ways and made a mess of my life, you forgave me and helped to rebuild what I had shattered. How I praise you for your great love!
When I felt tossed about by the waves of human inconsistency, when friends betrayed me, you calmed the storms of my life, protecting me and encouraging me. How I praise you for your great love!
All praise and thanks be to you, O God, because you are good! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
God undergirds all work and productivity (Psalm 107)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.