Discouragement and difficult times are facts of life. Trusting God can get downright brutal. Ask Job. Ask Job’s wife.
The fundamental difference between the rocky soil and the good soil in Jesus’ parable of the sower is what happened when the scorching sunshine of tribulation and persecution for the word’s sake (Mark 4:6, 17) came upon the seedling in their soil.
Theoretically, we all know that trials build character because God’s word tells us that the testing of our faith produces patience, and patience will produce spiritual maturity and completeness (James 1:3-4). Wisely, we should also know that when intense trials do come, Satan will show up and seductively suggest that the solution to our problems is to just quit.
In Psalm 31, David has hit a spiritual pothole. Like you and me, David must decide if he is going to continue in the straight and narrow way that leads to life or join the many traveling on the broad way that leads to destruction. David’s response when he faced the tantalizing temptation to quit is most instructive.
Seek God in prayer. Abandon all the fancy sounding platitudes that are far-too-often substituted for genuine communion with the Almighty. The God of truth can handle your earnest and honest expression of your faith and your fear. So, David prayed: “In You, O Lord, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in Your righteousness. Bow down Your ear to me, deliver me speedily; be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defense to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me. Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength. Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth” (vv. 1-5).
Remember and state God’s past deliverance. Jehovah does have a track record. It is impressive and pristine. So, instead of lingering to listen to Satan’s hissing suggestion to quit, David wisely focused his attention upon all that God has already done. “I have hated those who regard useless idols, but I trust in the Lord. I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy for You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities and have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a wide place” (vv. 6-8).
Describe your present distress. Biblical faith does not require rose-colored glasses or a spiritual lobotomy. Jesus’ cry from the cross of “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34) demonstrates this. Consider David’s description of his present distress: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; my eye wastes away with grief, yes, my soul and my body! For my life is spent with grief and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. I am a reproach among all my enemies but especially among my neighbor and am repulsive to my acquaintances; those who see me outside flee from me. I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel. For I hear the slander of many; fear is on every side; while they take counsel together against me, they scheme to take away my life” (vv. 9-13). How stressful and toxic would you find your life to be if your circumstances were like David’s?
Abandoning your faith when life gets difficult is a surefire way to lose your soul. Quitting is the easiest way to go. It requires no effort, no thought, no intelligence, no character, and no ability. All you need to do is succumb meekly to the cancer of self-pity. Satan, the doctor of death, will happily do the rest.