Call Upon Me
When was the last time you took a few minutes and seriously, quietly reflected upon God’s goodness to you? Perhaps it has been rough week at home, but are your children healthy, happy, included in God’s covenant promises? Do you see evidence of his working in their life, that they have not run off to the world but with all their struggles keep coming back and listening, desiring peace and reconciliation with you? You have more than enough reason to glorify God, to be deeply struck by his faithfulness and goodness. But are they wandering in wilderness of rebellion, breaking your heart? If the Lord has led you through these sorrows to cast your cares upon him, he has given you something better than faithful children. He has given you himself. The very tears that have broken your heart are salted with his goodness that has brought you closer to him.
If your wife has been patient with you, and your husband provided for the family, God has reached down his hand and lavished his goodness upon you. A week of safe travel is evidence of his faithfulness. When you are ill, he makes your sickbed (Ps. 41:3), offering you such hope and comfort that your hoarse voice should utter constant praise to him. The Lord preserved your home and goods from theft and fire last year; you should drop to your knees and praise him. He used a doctor to mend a broken bone, or a friend made a diet or medicinal recommendation that gave or restored health. The healing Savior has come your way. Thrill to his touch.
Descend more deeply. When you sinned grievously, the holy God you offended freely forgave you when you confessed your sins and pled for mercy through the Lamb of God. Week after week, he has fed you upon his word and sacraments, giving you tangible pledges of his love. Many are praying for you; probably many more than you imagine. Not only does the Lord of hosts watch over you with unceasing vigilance, but also his angels camp around you. God has preserved your from great dangers and fierce enemies, unknown to you but thwarted by him. He has given you his word so that you may learn his will, grow in the knowledge of his character and dealings with you, and watch his hand of mercy and providence move you ever closer to his eternal kingdom. He joined you to his Son so that as he is his Father’s Anointed, he is also your Head and Husband, Friend and Savior, Lord and King. Who can think seriously upon these blessings without being overwhelmed by his goodness? We are surrounded with his blessings, faithfulness, tastes of his goodness. Every believing heart should be happy and rejoice in God.
But, you say, life is more than these things. My heart is weeping over my children’s sins or my spouses many struggles. It is hard to live with so little money, always scraping by, worried about the future. I fear a disease may have taken hold upon me, or I suffer such headaches that I can barely function. I am a failure as a husband, or a mother, or a young person. Guilt over my sins at times overwhelms me so that I despair of God’s mercy and of my interest in Christ. I feel there is no point in trying. If only others knew what a hypocrite I am, they would shun me. And I try not to think about what is going on in the world – more despair, fear, and uncertainty.
Psalm 50:15 reads: “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify upon me.” I cannot think of a command we should more readily obey. The God who made all things, who directs all things according to his wise and holy purposes, who is in need of nothing yet who possesses all things commands us to come to him. That he would hear us at all is a mercy that should make the hairs on our arm stand on end. But when he says, “Look, you are weak, I am strong; you need me, as you are in constant trouble; you have sinned, but I am merciful; I want you to come to me with your troubles and worries, this is wondrous beyond estimation. This is light in the darkness, the bedrock of faith.
The Lord wants us to live in constant praise to him. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). God does not need our praise. He wants us to enjoy the privilege of praising him. At the heart of biblical religion is an oft forgotten idea: praise to God is our health: mental, spiritual, and physical. It is our calling. It is our destiny. Our Father knows that we are never happier than when we are praising him – in self and circumstance forgetfulness, in recognition of his many benefits, simply because he is God. Life does not have to be going as we would wish: praise him. We can be in the midst of sorrow and trouble: praise him. All can be well: praise him.
And as for the many adversities he brings into the life of the godly, he ordains and works specifically in them to bring us to call upon him, so that he will answer us, and then we shall glorify him for hearing and helping us. So giddy and stubborn we are that when all is going well, we forget to call upon him, thinking we do not need him as much. This blinds us to his hand in our lives and robs us of the opportunity to glorify him for answering us and giving us many tastes of heaven. We shall never thank him for a good day at the office, or for a child who shares, of for a husband who tries to lead the family, if we have not asked him. How can we thank him if we do not look for his help by calling upon him? Then, when gray skies roll over us, we have not formed the habit of calling upon him, or if we do, it is with a faltering heart, unsure of mercy, untrained in faith, unacquainted with covenant. But his invitation to us remains in force. Call upon me in the day of trouble. I brought the trouble so that you would call upon me, and that in seeking me, you would find me. Even if I leave you in trouble, finding me, you have a guide, a defense, courage, and hope. You have me. As with my Son, if you have me – even if your feelings are all askew, your friends forsake you, and all the hosts of hell besiege you – it is enough. I am life. Give glory and praise me. Fulfill the purpose of your creation and of your re-creation in my Son. To glorify me is to live truly and fully as my children and to rest in me as your rock and fortress. It is to be my image in the truest, purest way. I am glory: glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, and doing wonders (Ex. 15:11). Your life is to glorify me.
We shall never answer his call unless he is becoming our life. Think of what our Savior has done for us. Because he came, God is near us in love and covenant: Emmanuel. Heaven is opened to us at all times: the very throne of God. Jesus Christ, in resurrected flesh and omnipotent sympathy, is interceding for us. His prayers are always, always heard and answered, in ways far better than we can imagine. He sanctifies our misguided prayers into acceptable ones and secures for us the blessings of God’s nearness and faithfulness. He is our anchor, surety, and advocate. These are not truths simply for preachers but are the blood of faith. You need this Savior, as do I. Without him, we are unprotected, have no wisdom, are utterly blind and unclean. Without him, safety is a delusion; hope is a fairy tale. Without him, life is tasteless and pointless and joyless.
But with him, this “call upon me” takes on a completely different significance. “Call upon me:” my Son intercedes for you. “Call upon me:” you are sinful, but I look not at your deficiencies but upon his righteousness. “Call upon me:” he has already passed through the worst storms and deepest hell. “Call upon me:” my Beloved loves you, as I have loved you. “Call upon me:” I will not fail you as he did not on the cross. Seize the occasion of trouble to draw still closer to me, as he did in the Garden. When I gave you my Son, I joined this gift with a pledge to give you everything else you would ever need (Rom. 8:32). I gave you my covenant; I gave you myself.
A life of calling upon God through Jesus Christ leads to a life of glorifying God. Such a life is very different from the distracted, infantile existence of our society. Men feel lost; they look for meaning. They have lost hope; they seek escape. They live for themselves; they become slaves of fantasy. But God has called us to something higher, something better. He calls us to himself. He wants us to know his power in our weakness, his joy in our sorrows and struggles, his light in our darkness. He wants us to know the joy of praising him. He is life and joy. To praise him is to “taste and know that the Lord is good.” To glorify God is the peace of the soul, the solace of the heart, the stability of the mind, and the health of the body. To glorify God transforms human relations, quickens our corporate worship, and shapes the spirit of our home. To glorify God is to have God enter your life, your circumstances, and your inmost self with all his grace and love, providence and power. It is to live, to have God for your God, to enjoy him, and to look for nothing but what you find in him.