God’s Presence Through the Word

Meditating on Psalm 119:81-112.

My soul faints for Your salvation,
But I hope in Your word.
82 My eyes fail from searching Your word,
Saying, “When will You comfort me?”

Unless Your law had been my delight,
I would then have perished in my affliction. (Ps. 119:81,82,92)

Psalm 119 essentially talks about God’s laws, precepts, statutes, and testimonies. In other words, and as we apply the psalm in the present, it talks about the Word of God, the words that proceeded out of His mouth which were faithfully recorded in both old and new testaments and became the Holy Bible. The psalmist, in his extreme need, hopes in God’s Word, in His promises, and not on anything else. He diligently searches God’s Word, looking for the fulfilment of the promise which is in it. By holding on to and delighting in God’s promises, he is delivered and doesn’t perish in his affliction. What great light, penetrating from long ago, does this bring us!

The psalms teach us that in everything, in all our trials and tribulations, may they be diseases of our bodies, problems that break our hearts, or great dangers we face – we can put our hope and trust in God’s Word, in His promises. This is the one thing that makes us wiser than the wisdom of the world.

Oh, how I love Your law [Word]!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation. (vv. 97-99, annotation mine)

The Word of God teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains us in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). It heals our diseases. He sent His word and healed them… (Ps. 107:20). But it is also a channel through which we can feel God’s powerful presence. We praise and worship God to enter into His presence and feel Him moving mightily in us. But we cannot always sing with strength, especially those of us who are sick and weak.

There are seasons in my illness that my abdomen becomes too weak to vocalize. For weeks, even months, I cannot sing praises in my private worship time, but I compensate that in immersing more in the Word, morning and evening. I honor and worship the Lord as I soak up His Word, verse upon verse, passage upon passage, chapter upon chapter. There are times that He grips me so suddenly in His presence as I plough through His Word, that my spirit is caught up in His embrace. And I would stop in the middle of reading, raise my hands and worship, and bask in His glorious presence, tears cascading.

One night many months ago, when my son Tim was suffering from an asthma-like cough and my husband was away praying and fasting, I felt, heard in my spirit, and saw in my mind, the Lord talking to me. In the early evening, I read Him between the pages, during the ministry of prophet Elisha. I was so in it – the places, His words, His power, His presence. As if I was there myself. When later that night, Tim sat up and told me that he couldn’t breathe, I raised my hand towards heaven and cried out to God. As I prayed and begged Him to help Tim, I saw Him in my mind (my eyes were tightly closed) and He spoke to me.

“You spent time with Me tonight. You delighted in My words and works. You know Me, who I Am, what I can do. I will not fail you. I am with you. See, I am here. Just so very near you.” (Choking back tears). I was weeping because of the Lord’s holy presence and His words. And when I laid my hands on my son to cast out his sickness, I saw in my mind that it was God’s prophet Elisha who was laying his hands on my son. Before the night was over, Tim began to recover. Hallelujah!

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. (v. 105)

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Afflictions’ Purpose

Meditating on Psalm 119: 57-80.

Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word. (Ps. 119: 67)

In the passages of Psalm 119: 57-80, the psalmist acknowledges that his afflictions are from the Lord and they were sent to remind him he’s gone astray from the Lord’s statutes. Almost always, God sends afflictions to His people to draw them back to Him. I base my observations both from my own experience and from the many testimonies I’ve heard.

God will send all sorts of “calamities” to break us, strip us off, send us to our knees, with the purpose of calling our attention. He may do it to an individual, to a family, to a community, or to a whole country. He doesn’t do it merely to punish, but in His great faithfulness and mercy, He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9, emphasis mine).

Today, my mind is particularly focused on the latest calamity that has ravaged our land, claimed over a hundred lives, and ruined properties and important landmarks. Calamity after calamity, our nation and people are battered and afflicted. Before they can even completely scrub off the hardened brown clay from off the flooded floors, posts, and walls; before the evacuees can even settle back to their damaged homes; before the communities can even start restoring devastated properties, and grief-stricken families begin to heal – another tragedy strikes.

I mourn for my country. Month after month, a catastrophe breaks out, whether force majeure – alluvion, super typhoon, earthquake, landslide, drought – or man-made – sea tragedies, corruption in government, rebellion, war – these are all designed by the soveriegn God (except for corruption, rebellion, or other immoral acts) to bring the people to repentance. To turn them away from their idolatry and immorality to worship and serve the one true living God.

If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;

14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chro. 7:13-14)

God is speaking loud and clear, but do the people hear?

God’s judgments are just and it is in His faithfulness that He does these things, with the utmost intent to reconcile the people to Him.

I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
76 Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to Your word to Your servant.
77 Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live… (vv. 75-77)

And whatever happens, He alone can comfort us in our sorrow; He alone can liberate us from our afflictions, and restore us, as an individual, a family, a community, or a nation.

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