19 March 2001

"Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer"-Psalm 4:1 Distress can come in many ways. The last part of that word is stress. Pressure, worries, fears, disappointments, heartaches sickness and fear have always been the soul hunters of God's people throughout the ages. Some come from our own sin and neglect. Others are the byproduct of a depraved society. Surely, these are not new. David had experienced his portion in the land of the living. His pen speaks of present and past experiences of distress. Yet his pen is not one of surrender. It paints a vivid picture of hope and encouragement ... .even in times of distress. As he considered his present plight and called upon God to hear his complaint a former experience came to light. As he spoke, God sent him a kind reminder of a miraculous event that occurred the last time he approached the most High in such a state: He came out of it "enlarged"! Naturally speaking, prosperity should come when the birds are singing, the sun is shining and everything seems to be going our way. So far as natural prosperity is concerned, this is usually the case. Yet David sets before us a paradox. He has been enlarged, his boarders have grown at a most unlikely time ... ."when I was in distress." How was David enlarged? It seems we are losing ground, wasting precious time and opportunities when we are in distress. The dark clouds and rainy days seem to be wasted days that could be better spent in some sunny corner of the world where cares and troubles do not exist. Yet, how needful is the rain which may only fall from dark and thundering threatening skies. His enlargement was of a spiritual nature. He grew closer to his Lord. Seldom will we find one enlarged spiritually when the barns are full and prosperity knocks at the door. Though no one will ask for it, want it or enjoy it, distress is the pruning instrument in the hand of the husbandman. No matter how good the tree may be, it must be pruned that it may bring forth abundant fruit. When do we find ourselves most on our knees? Is it not in times of greatest distress? The ship must begin to sink in their storm before the disciples will remember their Master asleep in the hold. The example is figurative of our inattentive behavior until times of greatest need. Jesus desires to be on deck with us at all times and many storms are sent our way to renew our fellowship with the one who can calm the sea and the wind with just a word. Perhaps the distress and the storm has left an indelible and lasting impression on our heart and even in our lives. Yet, the benefit outweighs the pain. We have been enlarged spiritually. Enlarged borders offer us some precious advantages. Our opportunities to minister and witness to others has grown. We have more compassion on others in distress. The borders of Zion are enlarged as we lead others to the source of our strength and comfort. David's thought is endless in opportunities and encouragement as it sets our hearts to seeking God's will in times of distress. Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church. Singing begins at 10:30 each Sunday morning followed by preaching at 11:00. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.