I’m sure I have wavered in my fear of God numerous times over the years. James reinforces the foundational truth which must be recognized: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it” (James 2:10). We are all transgressors. Therefore, we need to be humble and fear God.
“Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.” Psalm 36:1
Regardless of how we set ourselves up against and contrast ourselves with the wicked and the evil, we are no better than they. Our contrast or comparison reveals a failure of self-analysis or self-awareness. We tend to flatter ourselves in our own eyes.
But loss puts fear of God front-and-center. You are forced to stare brokenness in the eye.
So, while David is writing about his oppressors or those in opposition, it’s a bit like the disciples staring up at Jesus on the cross. Sure, the Roman soldiers put him there. But, so did they.
So did I. So did you.
Our unredeemed words are trouble and deceit. We act unwisely. We plot evil. The wicked flatter themselves, hide their iniquity, refuse to do good, set themselves on a bad path, and do not reject evil.
It’s important not to set ourselves too far removed from the wicked. As the English evangelical preacher and martyr, John Bradford, reportedly said in the 1500s, “There but for the grace of God go I.” His is a humble acknowledgement.
“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God…” Psalm 36:5-6
We are all debtors in need of grace and mercy. As a humble mourner, turn to God and receive. God’s steadfast love is an amazing weapon in the fight against brokenness. I have found, in loss, that the steadfast love of the Lord goes deeper than my pain. It goes higher and farther. Through my loss, I’ve learned more about steadfast love than anything else. I don’t think that’s an overstatement.
“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 36:7
Still not convinced?
David describes this steadfast love as precious and as a place under which we can take refuge. God spreads his wings, and we hide in the shadow. Refuge. Deeper than my pain. Higher. Farther. I have yet to outpace his steadfast love. I now know I will not go beyond it.
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee…” Augustus Toplady, “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me”
Even in loss, look for the abundant feast of his presence. Look through your tears for the river of delights. Drink from the fountain of life.
Still not convinced?
“Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!” Psalm 36:10
I bow in humility before him. Once known by my transgressing. Now known by my fearing him. And he is good to me in my loss. I refuse to be arrogant in his presence. I will not allow the pain or the wicked to drive me away from under the shadow of his wing. Evildoers will fall and will not rise. I will rise on eagle’s wings. I will experience resurrection. I will arise.
Everywhere I turned in the valley of loss I found his steadfast love. His steadfast love permeated my loss.
“Let me now find peace of heart by fleeing from myself and taking refuge in Thee.” John Baillie, A Diary of Private Prayer