Betrayal, challenges, battles, attacks, completely drained of strength, left for dead, and hopeless…feeling helpless. But there also comes a time when we have to muster up any strength that might remain…simply an act of faith…no matter the odds…face our accuser and stand up!
“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:1-4)
These are the words of broken people. Demoralized, humiliated, and banished. No longer basking in the prosperity of David’s kingdom and the glory of being God’s chosen people. There are many reasons we struggle: our sin, other people’s sin, a test from God, a challenge from the enemy, or it’s just life. But no matter what, defeat and retreat are not options.
Don’t feed defeat
“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion” (v. 1)
- They associated with their captors. Babylon was a place of incredible wickedness and immorality…and that’s what they used as their point of reference. In doing so, they embraced discouragement. When the situation is maximized, God is minimized.
- They were positioned for defeat: sitting…idle…passive. They should have been standing indicating their readiness to fight; or kneeling, a position of seeking God, praying, and repenting. When we focus on adversity, we’re missing what God can, wants to, and will do.
- This trapped them in the past. They were trapped by failure: old ways, mistakes, and baggage. They were also trapped by past successes and victories.. This gave us a false security, forgetting God in the equation.
Don’t stop fighting
“There on the poplars we hung our harps” (v.2). The key to their battles was worshipping Yahweh. To invite the presence of God would bring down the intervention of His Mighty Hand. Someone else who played a mean harp gave up on worship. When David hung up his harp, he failed. In our discouragement, we are in no mood to lift our hands and praise the One we may be blaming for our demise. While we are to “bless the Lord at all times” (Psalm 40), we especially should when it appears all hope is lost. That’s when God alone can receive glory for lifting us up. I don’t feel like it. Neither did the psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!” (Psalm 103). He had to command himself to praise God. Do it anyway!
Don’t focus on the enemy
“For there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” (v. 3) We can almost feel the mockery in that statement. The Israelites were renowned because of Yahweh. Everyone knew who they were and the God they sang to. But yet, Babylon conquered them. Made them slaves. Crushed their spirits, taunted, mocked them. Where is your God now? He saved Moses, Joshua, David, Jehoshaphat. Has He finally met His match? Or is it you? Yes, it’s you. You’re the failure and God doesn’t care about you! Or “Where is this Jesus? He said He’d make you more than a conqueror. Where is this promised victory? He said He would never forsake you! He’s been faithful to others, but not you!”
Don’t lost sight of God
“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (v. 4). You’ve taken everything from us: stolen flocks, burned our homes, murdered our families, destroyed the temple of God! How dare you demand a song from us? Especially here in this most wicked of nations? And that’s where we make the biggest of mistakes: thinking everything has to be perfect, in order, and in place to cry out to Him. Do we have to be in a church to worship? Bible study? A CD playing? Can’t we praise God where we’re at? In a sense, we’re in a foreign land. Until His return, Earth is our domain. It doesn’t matter where we’re at physically or emotionally, God is with us every step of the way.
I was challenged recently regarding my relationship with God. When asked what fruit I possessed, I was temporarily deflated because I couldn’t justify love, peace, and joy. It might be hard to see these because I’m beat up, battle weary, and bruised. The enemy has sifted me, worn me down, and messed with my mind. While God has worked in others’ lives, there are times I’ve felt far from God, abandoned, and forgotten…seasons where I can’t sense His Presence.
But I can say this: I’ve remained faithful…even when I felt like giving up. I might be weak but I’m still standing. I’ve been tempted but haven’t yielded. I haven’t lost my song and I’m still praising Him! By God’s Grace…I’m still here!