Don’t worry, this isn’t a negative article. In fact, there is a very positive, uplifting message in it. You can learn this lesson. Be a trend breaker. Learn from others mistakes, the second mouse gets the cheese. There’s plenty of cheese if you are the second mouse.
Have you noticed how history repeats itself? Take nation after nation in world history. They started off strong, got prideful and lazy, and replaced the values and people who made them great. Then the slide downward comes. They were great, for a season. They finished wrong, not strong.
Did God cause the downfall? No. Men’s hubris and self-reliance caused it. The problem with pride is that it picks up momentum as it goes along. Men aren’t punished so much for their mistakes but by their mistakes. So the cycle continues. The nation becomes a captive to mediocrity at best, stuck on a perpetual trapeze that just swings back and forth.
This pattern happened to Israel back in the old days. But in Israel’s case at that time in Psalm 107, we see the pattern reversed. We see Israel move from captivity to deliverance in several different types of crises.
I call this pattern; ‘The Problem, the Prayer, the Provision and the Praise.’ All countries and people face crisis. The key is what we do in crisis. Let’s be the second mouse. Let’s learn what most will never learn.
The first crisis was that Israel lost its direction. Their problem was they were lost in the wilderness. They needed guidance. They needed to get their bearings back. The Bible says in verses 4-5, “They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region; they did not find a way to the inhabited city.” They recognized they had a problem. That’s half the battle.
What happened then? They prayed in verse 6, “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble.” God’s provision came in answer to their prayer in verse 7, “He delivered them out of their distresses. He led them by a straight way to the inhabited city.” Notice their praise to God in the verses 8-9. “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving kindness…” There it is: Problem, Prayer, Provision, and Praise. God wasn’t mad at them. God was mad about them.
The next problem was they were captives to their sin and rebellion in verses 10-12. They left God out of their heritage. Israel got into all kinds of stuff that had dangerous consequences. “There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains.” What did they do then? They prayed the same prayer that they prayed last time in verse 13…“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble.” God broughtprovision in answer to their prayer in verses 13-14. “He saved them out of their distresses.” What was their response to this deliverance in verse 15?Praise! “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving-kindness is everlasting.” There it is again: The Problem, the Prayer, the Provision and the Praise.
Next, we see the crisis of being delivered from circumstances beyond their control. Some were on a ship and a storm came up in verse 27. That was a problem that they didn’t cause. In the midst of the storm, they prayed a prayer, the same as the other prayer in verse 28. “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble.” God comes with provision in verses 28-30. “He caused the storm to be still, so that they waves of the sea were hushed.” What was the people’s response in verse 31? Praise! “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving-kindness…”
That’s how we get delivered from captivity. God gave this solution to nations also. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14. This pattern is good for business, church, and everyday people too. First the problem comes, which causes people to pray, which God hears, responds to. Then people thank God. When you’re at your wit’s end, you’ll find God lives there.
Regrettably, history shows us, after the problem goes away, the prayer and praise go away and then God’s provision, protection and favor goes away. The cycle begins all over again. But there is always a way back. The time is always right to do what’s right. The Problem, the Prayer, the Provision, and the Praise: The way is yours, take it.
Note on prayer: When it’s hardest to pray is when we pray the hardest.
Church-Community Connection is published weekly in 10 newspapers all over the world. Most of these newspapers are local paid subscription newspapers. The goal of these 450 word articles is to build a bridge to the community through humor, wisdom and changing mental perceptions that the community has of the church.