I must admit it. A difficult diagnosis + be obsessed with the information and have it accessible through the internet + be a lover of calendars and lists of “things to do” + social networks with all kinds of touching stories … is a perfect recipe for distress.
Yes … I had a close encounter with distress. It is so reckless as someone ringing your doorbell 24/7; so invasive as a knot in the stomach; and so persistent as a leak in the roof.
But the psalmist saying is true: “Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight” (Psalm 119: 143, NIV). I’m also finding delight in the Word of the Lord.
There are many Bible verses that speak of distress. Sometimes it is illustrated as being in a cramped, crowded place, like being against the wall. And in the process of being delivered from distress the Lord brings you into a spacious, broad, large place. For example:
Psalm 4: 1 (NRSV)
“Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.”
Psalm 18: 6, 19 (NRSV)
(V 6) In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.
(V 19) He brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
Psalms 118: 5-6 (NRSV)
“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me?”
Does this mean that God change the circumstances and takes away what is causing my distress? Certainly, He can do that, but these verses suggest something else. Distress/Anxiety is misleading because it speaks of separation and distance. It feels like “I’m here in my distress and God is there, far away in his temple” But through these verses we can understand the meaning of God bringing us into “a large place”:
1. No such separation exists, “the Lord is on my side.” I can experience God’s favor because one day Christ experienced the real anguish of the wrath of God for my sake. Because of his sacrifice my present troubles are only mirages. The Lord is on my side I do not fear.
2. God delivered me from distress as an act of grace, “because he delighted in me“. No distress, trouble, or any situation can take me out of the scope of God’s grace.
3. I should trust Him better. In Psalm 4, David is praying and he remembers that God is trustworthy and says … “you gave me room when I was in distress” … and keep on praying. We have to recall all the marvelous acts of the Lord. He is trustworthy. We must remember every day the greatest act of deliverance we have experienced, our salvation. I humbly acknowledge that is a daily struggle. Each and every one has a perfect recipe for distress but the Lord is always able to “bring us into a broad place” to show us his favor and grace.