Sermon Passage: Psalm 116
How do we get better at loving God and people? 1 Corinthians 13 says that everything we do is meaningless without love. We can learn from the Psalms, which train our affections.
In Psalm 116, the psalmist expresses anxiety over experiencing suffering. What was his response? He calls on the name of the Lord. This is significant. Calling on the name of the Lord appeals to his character. What is the result of God's character being invoked? Verses 5-6 display's God's response. He is gracious and righteous, merciful and preserves us. He provides salvation and rest for our souls. The Lord's response contains bountiful blessing.
Notice that God is gracious AND righteous. How much grace do we give people before our grace runs out? How much grace can God show your enemies and the wicked before we question his righteousness? "It isn't fair," we might say. "They don't deserve it!" Neither do we. Nobody does. God is patient even with the wicked.
Likewise, when we see pain and suffering around the world, next door, or in our lives, will we call God stingy and unrighteous? God is righteous and gives grace according to his plan, not yours. God is patient and righteous even with you.
We agree that God is righteous and gracious when thinking about it in the abstract, but we don't really believer our theology until it gives us rest. God HAS dealt bountifully with us, and if we forget that it is because we forget how wicked we are and how righteous God it.
No one and nothing will satisfy my current affliction like God. There is no one you can call on but the name of the Lord, appealing to his gracious and righteous character. All else leads to further emptiness.
The Psalmist is overjoyed at the bountiful rest and blessing he has been given by God. He asks what he shall do in thanksgiving. His response to life's abundant blessings and life's afflictions is the same. He calls on the name of the Lord. When trials pass, we might think, "Why do I need to call on the name of the Lord now? I don't need anything." The psalmist, however, knows that we need God in every moment, even during abundance.
The Psalmist says that the death of saints is precious to God. "I thought we were asking deliverance from death." Your bad situation can stick with you all the way to death, and this is not failure. You don't need deliverance from physical death or discomfort. In the midst of suffering we call on God's name to thank him for saving us from offending him. Because of his grace, we can experience the joy of salvation and relationship with God even in the midst of suffering.
When the cares of this world compete for you attention and affection, renounce comfort and the pursuit of these things. "No, you have not saved me and provided rest and joy in suffering like God has!" It is wrong to wait for joy at the end of trials, hoping it will come some day. Joy is found today in calling on the name of the Lord because he is gracious and righteous to save us and bless us bountifully in the midst of suffering. He has given us himself. If you don't feel the weight of that blessing, they your next step is to realize what wickedness and self-destruction you have been graciously saved from and are still being saved from.