Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.(verse 6)
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.(verse 10)
David knew difficulty. The foundation of his fame and faith is traceable to a period of severe trial during which time he learned to know God as his internal compass. He faced the dangers of war and carried the responsibilities of leading a nation. He knew the pain of committing grave mistakes. He faced many giants during his life time.
The giants in our lives are opportunities as well for us to grow virtue – a clean heart, and its counterpart courage – a steadfast spirit.
If plans just went along as we envisioned and desired, if we never got sick or injured, if people never let us down, if the economy never stumbled and money were plentiful, if cars never crashed and people never sinned, if others were understanding and my kids never make mistakes, if my husband never faltered and my church never blundered, if temptation were not present and my kids always obeyed, if I could control their lives and keep them from all harm, then perhaps courage would not be necessary.
But life is unpredictable in this fallen world as we live out life along side unpredictable people. How I respond – when sudden difficulty arises, when the pressures of life feel unbearable and I find myself at the end of the rope, when the challenges before me appear insurmountable – reveals my internal compass. Difficult times unveil who I really am.
In the midst of trouble , we can either put our confidence in God and respond with thanksgiving, stepping out in His promises OR we can rely on our own limited strength and grow weary and fearful. We can trust or we can worry, contrastive frames of mind that cannot co- exist. Trust diminishes anxiety and anxiety diminishes trust. As children of God we must lose our ability to be anxious.
Spiritual courage is the truest test of the authenticity of our faith. “God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in a crisis they are the ones upon whom He can rely…God expects of us the one thing that glorifies Him—and that is to remain absolutely confident in Him.” (Oswald Chambers)
Our inner resolve, our virtue, is most clear displayed during times of trouble. No one enjoys setbacks or difficulties. Whether you are facing a true crisis or merely a temporary hitch in your plans, difficulty is no fun! I find peace more readily in the midst of a serious crisis however than I do in the minor difficulties of daily live. Perhaps it is because I have no choice but to rely on God during major difficulties. But in the daily stuff of live – the small continual infractions and setbacks – I can quickly wear down and lose my sensibilities.
How do you respond to problems? You children watch and learn how to solve problems from you!
Are you a problem avoider? Do you simply hope trouble will just go away if you ignore the issues? Or do you run from problems, changing your plans and commitments when difficulties arise? Remind yourself that need and struggle are actually things which inspire us because they cause us to grow and learn.
Are you a problem enlister? Do you look for ways to share your struggles with others and exhaust your efforts in enlisting others to solve the problems you find yourself in? Do you find yourself faulting others for your troubles when frustration grows within you?
Are you a problem wallower? Do you find yourself actually creating problems because they provide the excuses you need to remain as you are? Making ones identify around the idea of how tough life is, a woe- is- me attitude, is a warped state of mind that must be addressed and driven out.
Or do fears paralyze you rendering you incapable of moving beyond them?
OR are you a problem resolver? Do you accept struggles as opportunities to grow and opportunities to see God be victorious in your life? Do you see problems as a means by which to actually makes things better? If so you are likely a leader. Leaders are placed in positions that require the skill of problem solving and the confidence to face challenges head on. Christian leaders will find that confidence in Christ is the only answer to life’s problems as they face the many issues that ministry places on their plate.
David was a leader who praised God. He discovered the secret to entering into God’s gates by thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Sometimes we make faith prisoner to our own emotions rather than learning to be still and quieting that worrisome voice in our heads. When we fail to be still however, we run in our own strength, guided by our own thoughts and we remain under the shadow and panic of the circumstances facing us. In Psalm 4:10, David said to “be still and know that I am God.” Rest in God is our best weapon against the enemy. We must drop our choice to panic and worry if we are to walk with God. Then our crisis becomes an opportunity for God to work and our day of panic turns into a day of victory. God longs to release His children from fear and worry and to give us peace. When we choose to lean on our own understanding however, listening to our own anxious voice, we become a crutch to ourselves. (insights from Graham Cooke in his book Crafted Prayer)
A clean heart is David’s way of defining virtue (aretê) – that inner condition of what we are really like. The Hebrew meaning refers to pure thoughts and pure desires. David knew that in order to have a steadfast spirit (courage) he first needed a clean heart before God.
Click on the link above for a tip sheet on teaching kids to become problem solvers.
Oswald Chambers: “ It is a disastrous thing for a man never to be ragged; an appalling thing to be a privileged young man! A lad who has been his mother’s pet and has been brought up like a hothouse plant is totally unprepared for the scathing of life as it is, and when he is flung out into the rugged realities of life, he suffers intolerably. Conceive the suffering of a lad who has been sheltered, never had anything go against him, never been thwarted, when the tension does come.”