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Cry out to the Lord

Feb, 2003

Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,

What choices do we have in times of deep distress, opposition and oppression? When God hides His face and the enemy has apparent advantage, the soul is in trial for its very life. What can we do? How do we pray?

At these times, we find ourselves under continuing pain, pressure, and failing prospects for relief. We feel our communion with God broken, like He has forgotten us. At such times our hearts question God, asking in anguish, "How long?" Then that point comes when the symptoms and the particular circumstances become superceded by the soulís cry to the heart of God. This is deep calling to deep, a yearning in extreme faith and trust in times of trial that God will hear our cry and respond.

Many psalms provide us with words with which to cry out to the Lord. As our Paraclete, Comforter, and One who Comes Alongside, the Holy Spirit inspired these psalms to enable us to voice our feelings and desires, our anguish, pain, and yes, praise and confident expectation that God will provide, protect, and preserve.

The righteous cry, and the LORD hears, and delivers
Them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto
Them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be
Of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the
Righteous: but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34.17-19

In Psalm 13, the sufferer howls, "How long will You forget me, O LORD? Forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?" Is it a valid inquiry? Yes, it is. (Isaiah 8.17; 45.15; 57.17; Psalm 44.24; 1 Peter 3.12; John 9.31)

In this psalm we have the very human cry of one in deep distress. David knew this kind of distress, and the psalm is attributed to him. "How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?"

Will Yahweh forget himóforever? In times of dense darkness, it seems so. Jeremiah 13.15-18 tells us that God causes darkness, turning light into the shadow of death, making it dense darkness. It is a test of heart (Jeremiah 12.3), a trial of loyalty and supreme attachment to God alone (cf. Jeremiah 15.19-21), a taste of Godís despair and longing anguish over the sin of His people. (Isaiah 1 and 58)

God also has His "how long?" and His agony of rejected love (Jeremiah 23.39, Hosea 4.6, Matthew 23.37). God warned that His people should not forget the covenant (Deut. 4.23), for He does not (Deut. 4.31). Any departure from the Lord is idolatry (Deut. 8.19). To depart is to stand in fear of harm and danger, to live fretfully (Isaiah 51.13), to challenge Him (Psalm 106.13).

We want Godís face to shine upon us. We need that. Jesus brought climax to Godís anguish over sin and also our anguish in being forgotten by God. (Psalm 22, Mt. 27.46)

In such times we take counsel in our souls. Weíre talking about turmoil of thought, deliberate and weary planning for relief. We turn to ourselves, mulling over devices of relief day and night. Itís a subtle form of rebellion (Isaiah 30.1; Proverbs 3), as we turn from taking counsel of God.

Then the psalmist raises the issue of the enemy, who augments his grief and weakness. "How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?"

The enemy prevails, taking every advantage, moving with his own evil devices (Psalms 69, 89, 35, 31, 109), scheming to take away life and bring to death. The soul is swamped in the roaring flood and crashing waves, teaching us that focus on the enemy can only bring sudden destruction. Hear the complaint turn again to appeal.

Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; lighten mine eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest mine enemy say,
I have prevailed against him; and those that troubled
Me rejoice when I am moved. (Psalm 13.4)

Bottom line? It is not to self, sin, Satan, or the worldís resources we must appeal, but to "Yahweh, my God." It is to the Source of life, light, and love. In the context of covenant, the psalmist asks/demands consideration, answer, and enlightenment. Heís asking to be remembered, to be looked upon (Psalm 45.10; 119.153; 1 Samuel 1.11, e.g.). Itís come down to the only One who saves. For God to remember is for Him also to forget sin (Psalm 103; 25.7; Jeremiah 31.34) and to remember mercy (Habakkuk 3.2).

God says to call, and He will answer (Job 13.22). If God hears, He will answer (Psalm 69.17; 102.2; 143.1,7; 1 John 5.14). With His attention comes enlightenment, which brings revival (Ezra 9.8; 1 Samuel 14.27), renewal of vitality, and removal of perplexities. Itís hard, very hard, but like Peter it gets down to this: "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6.68, 69)

Faith fights, and the Holy Spirit accommodates with models of prayer in the Scriptures. Here are acceptable words to bring to God. Pray for restoration and deliverance because of imminent destruction. The psalmist chooses life and light, rather than to become hardened against God. Death threatens in the conflict of light and darkness. In turning away from seeking the Lord, even to attack the dark (Psalm 36.9), rebellion ensues. Communion with a Holy God requires separation from all unholiness. Salvation in every instance is a separation from as well as a separation to.

Remind God that unless He intervenes with the light of life, the enemy will overcome and overwhelm. The enemy stands ready to boast with audacity and insolence and to glory in the soulís weakness. The Holy Spirit becomes so grieved at His childrenís rebellion, pride, idolatries, stubbornness, greed, etc. that He turns Himself to be the enemy (Isaiah 63.10); yet in bringing sin and self to death and in turning hearts away from other lovers, He moves in great compassion, not allowing Satan the ultimate advantage. The cry is, "Do not forget the work of Your hands! Do not let the enemy be exalted!"

Somewhere in the process, a change occurs. The Holy Spirit provides necessary and sufficient grace to deaden pride and return the heart to its center in God. Death, sorrow, and oppression flood the soul, but faith, first as a stone and then as a bulwark and shield, stems the tidal wave of the torrential intruder. Strengthened by grace, we hear the psalmist proclaim:

But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall
Rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing unto the LORD,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13.5, 6)

Trust in covenant mercy, hesed. The covenant is the sign and expression of Godís love. Godís hesed to those who love Him is the opposite of what He will show to those who hate Him. Keeping hesed, or mercy, relates to forgiveness of sin. God keeps His oath because He loves. (Psalm 103, 145, 86)

The lesson is this. We may despair of hope, but even in despair we will begin to hope. Clinging fast to God through trials and tribulation, our hearts will rejoice. In the end, the psalmist moves by grace from sighing to singing, celebrating Godís bountiful dealings with him. The soul celebrates life as it is released from prison and reaps blessing. The rejoicing of triumphant faith belongs to those who walk the path of prayer. Prayer changes things!

Jesus is touched by the feeling of our infirmities. He defeated Satan in the wilderness only to have him wait for yet another opportunity. Weakened physically, reproached, hated, betrayed, unheeded by most, Jesus moved in obedience to endure the cross and curse for us. Ultimate sacrifice, ultimate death, brought glorious resurrection and exaltation. For the joy set before Him, He endured the suffering and shame. Never off-center and always in communion with the Father, Jesusí sense of forsakenness wails in incomprehensible agony. (Psalm 22)

In Jesus Christ, God has visited planet earth. In Christ, God will consider, answer, and enlighten. Jesus has defeated the enemy and will triumph over every foe. Today we have the substance of the shadow, a more evident choice in face of trial. We have the witness of the Word more fully, the testimonies of countless believers.

Jesus clung to the love of the Father, and so must we. In the midst of turbulence, when the mind and emotions get off-balance, the pathway of prayer will bring our plea to the throne of grace. The Holy Spirit will draw us from sighing to singing as we cling in supreme attachment and loyalty to God.

Can you say, "My God, I rejoice in Your salvation?" Who is your god, and in what do you trust to save you from your distress of soul? Crying out to anything or anyone else is futility unto ultimate death and separation from God. Jesus alone saves. "This is eternal life that they may know Thee, the One true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." (John 17.3) Then you will sing psalms in the name of the Lord Most High who has indeed dealt bountifully with you.

Here at Craighouse, God is dealing bountifully. As God blesses us, so also we seek Him for ways to bless others. Through mentoring, giving, teaching, visitations, and bearing witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are instrumental in the lives of others in whom God is working. It is an amazing grace that God chooses to use the testimonies and lives of His "works in progress" to bring change, healing, and restoration to others. At Craighouse, people build authentic relationships, find care and shepherding, and share in lifeís joys and sorrows. In our small groups, nobody stands alone. No one cries out to the Lord without another standing alongside.

Will you help? Our web site draws hundreds of people seeking help in breaking strongholds and finding healing in Jesus Christ. Prayer requests reflect the intensity of the needs, the cries of hearts seeking assistance, answers, and truth.

Here is the link to
our latest "wish list." If the Holy Spirit moves you to help us in this ministry, please contact us. And please be sure to send in or let us know your heart's cry to the Lord so we can pray for you!

To the praise of His glory,

Mary Craig

Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts,
Cause Your face to shine; and
We shall be saved. (Psalm 80.19)

My heart's cry to the Lord

See Our Current Wish List for how you can help us right now.

Copyright © 2003 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.


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