Psalms 28:6-9, NLT
Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy. 7 The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. 8 The Lord gives his people strength. He is a safe fortress for his anointed king. 9 Save your people! Bless Israel, your special possession.Lead them like a shepherd, and carry them in your arms forever.
A little girl was walking down a sidewalk when she tripped and fell, skinning her knees and hands. As her mother was consoling her and cleaning her up, she looked up and said, “Wouldn’t it be great mom if all the world was cushioned?” Sadly, the world is not cushioned and there are countless bumps and bruises in life. We all get tripped up from time to time and every now and then we take a spill. Falling can be embarrassing but it can also be painful. There are many things that can trip us up, bring us down and cause of pain.
- Loneliness is a big issue, especially during the holidays. Can you imagine being forgotten. I did a memorial service a few days ago for a sweet and very innocent woman. I don’t think this woman was capable of hurting a fly. It was a grave side service at an unfamiliar location. I got there more than 30 minutes before the service but the Undertaker did not give me the obituary card until we left to start the service. I glanced at page one and put it in my pocket. I had known the woman for over 20 years and I never saw anyone other than her daughter, who is a member of our church, and her two granddaughters who also attend. I thought I knew all the family so I never used the card. When we got home, my wife was hanging up my suit and she came across the card, sat down and read it. This sweet lady had three children instead of one and nine grandchildren instead of two. Thank God for her daughter who cared for her and her two granddaughters that had a relationship with her but as I thought about the other 9 who had no relationship with her, it broke my heart. Had it not been for the one daughter, she would have been forgotten. It is a heart breaking thing to be forgotten. We live in the midst of a lot of lonely people; they are all around us, I am sure.
- Grief can also trip us up. I suppose the most difficult thing in life is to give up a loved one in the prime of their life. We have a very dear and precious woman here at DBC who had three of her six children precede her. She epitomizes our text, “The LORD is her strength.” She is an incredible woman. She thinks about her children every day: she has three in heaven and three here on earth. I’ve never seen a person handle grief so graciously but I know that she grieves every single day. Her faith is greater than her fear and although she grieves, she does not do it without hope.
- Disappointment can trip us up. Sibling rivalries are a huge source of disappointment. Parents yearn for their children to love each other. Some families are unable to be together for the holidays due to sibling rivalries. Divorce can be a huge disappointment. A divorce is like an oil tanker with a hole in the hull, it leaves and oil slick of bitterness and resentment a half mile wide and it can never be cleaned up.
- Financial struggles can trip us up. Christmas is a hard time for poor people. I think most of us want to do something special for others at Christmas but sometimes we are forced to make hard decisions. We cannot afford to help everyone on our list so we have to study and re-study the list and pick out those that we think need it the most. I’ve been struggling with this very issue this week. I have one of my Church Mother’s left. She is a widow woman who lives in Ashville, Alabama. She likes to go see her kids at Christmas and I usually give her a little money for the trip. She needs that money right now and I have been praying for a way to get it to her. I know a woman who works five jobs just to keep her family afloat. Financial struggles are a daily grind for many families and sometimes the struggle can get us down.
What Is The Answer?
 WE NEED TO RELY UPON THE LORD
David said, “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me.” The various trials of life can get us down. Most of us will never experience anything like Job but we will have problems and they can sap the life out of us. There will be days when we do not have the energy to go on. I love the song of Moses and in the second stanza, Moses says, The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him—my father’s God, and I will exalt him! There were over 600,000 Israelite men under Moses command so some estimate as many as 2-3 million total that were under his leadership and care. To make bad matters worse, he lead them through a barren wilderness where there was no pasture and no water to speak of and no shelter. Wow, what an incredible responsibility! How did he do it? He relied on the LORD. The LORD was his strength and song and we need to make HIM our strength and song.
 WE NEED TO HELP EACH OTHER
When the little girl fell in the story above, her mother was there to pick her up. It is paramount that we first and foremost rely on the LORD and make HIM our strength but secondly, we need the loving support of other believers. I can tell you what we don’t need when we fall…
- We don’t need scorn and laughter. Two boys went to the park to play. They lived in south Florida where the palm and coconut trees grow and their parents had warned them about climbing the trees. The youngest on a dare, climbed a coconut three and was reaching out to knock one of the coconuts down when he lost his grip and fell some 20 plus feet. He landed on top of his arm and he broke the bone. The older brother reveled in the pain and demise of this younger sibling and went running home to tell the parents what had happened. The younger brother did not need a tattletale, he needed help. He could have used some sympathy. I’ll be honest with you: I have never known a hurting person who did not want sympathy.
- We don’t need sanctimonious admonitions. Jobs friends were full of advice but they had no compassion. “God will bring good out of it…God knows best…It’s not as bad as you think…It could be a lot worse…The good LORD will see your through.” Whereas all these chinches are true, they are not always appropriate. Hurting people need your sympathy and love: they don’t need your advice.
- We need to help. David said the LORD is my helper and we need to be the LORD’s helpers. I can promise you that there is someone very close to you that needs your help right now. Slow down, think, pray and the LORD will lead you to the person.
 WE NEED TO LEARN TO SING IN THE RAIN
David said, “My heart is filled with joy. I will burst out in thanksgiving.” What I want you to see is the connection between thanksgiving and joy. They always run together. If you don’t have thanksgiving, you will not have joy and if you have joy, you will most certainly have thanksgiving. Dr. Jack Taylor tells the story of the woman dying with cancer. She was bitter, so bitter that no one wanted to be around her. Dr. Taylor paid her a visit and he listened to her story. When she was finished, he asked, “Have you given God thanks?” Are you nuts,” she said, “why would I thank God for cancer?” Dr. Taylor replied, “I’m not asking you to thank Him for the cancer, the bible says “In all things give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ.” God wills that we be thankful because He wants us to be joyful. Fortunately, the story has an happy ending. The woman saw the truth, “In the midst of whatever, give thanks…” and she bowed her head and began giving thanks. Although she had cancer, she was a Christian and was headed for heaven. She began with her relationship to Christ and began thanking God for all the good things that He had done for her. Her attitude and life were changed by one verse of scripture. She did pass away a few months later but she was not bitter: she died thankful and joyful.