Eligible for God’s Help

September 18, 2019

If you look closely at the beginning of Psalm 34, you’ll find that it doesn’t say, “I am happy at all times,” but “I bless God every chance I get” (Psalm 34:1).

These aren’t the words of a person whose moods are always ebullient; they’re the words of a person who has simply decided to speak a blessing every chance he gets, determined to be ready to give thanks in all things. The reason, of course, isn’t because he feels great but because he believes that God is working through all things to bring forth good (see Romans 8:28).

If you’re broken, you’ll find God right there.

Do you think of the Christian life as something that lifts you out of the realm of the mundane into something more majestic? If so, you’re wishing in the wrong direction. The Christian faith draws us deeper into the stuff of creation: bodies, money, emotions, relationships. Some of the stuff we see is awful. And some of the stuff we feel is painful.

But it is precisely there, in the awfulness and the painfulness of life, that we discover something that transcends these things. In Psalm 34:18, the psalmist says, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there.” The times the psalmist lived in were not all that different from our own times. Back then, as now, there was a pseudo theology that explained any kind of misfortune as a sign of divine punishment, whether the punishment was sickness, poverty, disability, or death. The sufferer’s recourse was either to avoid the gods or to strike a bargain with them so they would back off.

The single qualification for being eligible for God’s help is that we be in trouble.

Eugene H. Peterson

The ministry of Jesus was the great refutation of this. He deliberately singled out every kind of trouble and initiated a healing ministry to the sick, the guilty, the hungry, even the dead. The single qualification for being eligible for God’s help is that we be in trouble. The reason we’re in trouble doesn’t matter, whether it’s our own fault or someone else’s. What matters is that God is right there in the midst of our troubles, stooping to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts and put them back together.

This is just one of the more than 600 scriptural insights found in The Message Devotional Bible. If you would like to meditate on more writings from Eugene Peterson visit navpress.com.