Disciplines of Distress – Gospel in Life

Disciplines of Distress

Tim Keller |  February 16, 1997

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  • Hope
Psalm 11
RS 275-05


We’re in a series looking at how we experience God. Now we ask, how do you experience God in troubles and distress and difficulties?

There are many texts in the Bible about suffering. Psalm 11 is a short Psalm, and yet we find in it the same principles on how to deal with trouble that we find all through the Scripture. In this psalm, David shows us how to take refuge in God.

Psalm 11 shows us that we need to realize: 1) who is ruling the world, 2) all disasters are examinations, 3) only false foundations can be destroyed by circumstances, and 4) we have to seek God’s face.

Understanding Psalm 11

In Psalm 11, we learn how to handle tough times by turning to God for shelter and courage. Like Psalm 121, it talks about feeling desperate and needing a safe place. The main message is to keep hoping, find meaning even when things are hard, and remember that God is our rock and strength.

1. Understand who is in charge of the world

In Psalm 11, David tells us that God is in charge, even when everything seems to be going wrong. Think about Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon during the Protestant Reformation. Luther had to remind the worried Melanchthon that God, not us, runs the world. This basic truth is to remind us that God, not us, is the rightful ruler of everything.

2. Every hard time is really a test

When we go to God for protection, we need to remember He’s in charge and understand that He allows hard times to help us grow and learn. The Old Testament talks about having a close relationship with God, shown by the name “LORD”. It mentions two types of tests: one that shows our faults and another that checks our faith. These tests help us reflect on ourselves, change for the better, and realize that God is the source of our rescue.

3. Only fake foundations can be knocked down by hard times

Hard times can knock down fake foundations, but God’s solid foundation can’t be touched. It’s important to remember that God is in charge and our fear often comes from the wrong idea that we run the universe. Hard times aren’t punishments, but tests that show our faults and challenge our beliefs. Real strength comes from serving and finding joy in God just because of who He is.

4. Look for God

Looking for God is how we find shelter in Him. David says this when he talks about God’s fairness and love for justice. Even though the world can change and be unstable like a tree being cut down by a lumberjack, we can find a solid base in Jesus Christ. He faced the ultimate challenge on the cross. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of this, making us think about the challenges of life and turning to Christ, our solid base.



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