I have terrible eyesight and along with that comes the lifestyle of eyeglasses and contacts. I know this may sound like a first world problem, but its interesting how much of a difference clarity of sight can alter the events of the day. In order to play sports I had to take the time to learn and purchase contacts. Even wearing glasses can become difficult on a hot and sweaty day. Just recently a friend of mine lost his glasses while kayaking. This even led to a discouragement to read due to blurriness and difficulty of keeping track of the score as we watched the NBA playoffs.
While not everyone has blurry eyesight, this isn’t always the case in the spiritual world. Believers, no matter how mature, may struggle with spiritually blurred vision. The truth is that our sin can often deceive us into focusing on items that are spiritually unhealthy/unbiblical.
Thankfully, the Bible addresses the spiritually distracted or unfocused. Psalm 119:81-88 provides several principles to maintain and practice that help believers remain spiritually oriented when facing the temptation or pressure to lose spiritual focus.
- Reflect on God’s Truth (vv. 81-83). The psalmist is experiencing spiritual pressure. This is evident because of the description of his soul and eyes as “languishing” and “failing” and his comparison as a dried out “wineskin.” He remedy in such times of pressure is simple: meditate upon God’s Word. He states that he wants God’s “salvation,” “word,” and remembers God’s “statutes.” In other words, the psalmist focuses upon God’s Word in a meditative manner. Believers ought to cultivate a healthy reservoir of God’s Word to meditate in times of difficulty in order to remain spiritually focused.
- Remember God is in Control (v. 84). In the midst of his persecution the psalmist must remind himself of his standing or position before God. He identifies himself as God’s “servant.” He understands that the master of everything in his life is the Lord. Even his persecutions and trials are divine assignments from the Master to His servant. He also remembers that vengeance and judgment belong to God. He does not seek to matters into his own hands, but trusts that God will exercise His sovereign rule when appropriate. Believers ought to constantly remind themselves that God is in control in the midst of their difficulty in order to remain spiritually focused.
- Remove Spiritual Distractions (v. 85). The psalmist uses the imagery of hunting to describe the attitude of his trials or opposition, “the arrogant have dug pits for me.” He identifies these hunters as men “who are not in accord with Your law.” In other words, the psalmist states that anything that does not align with God’s Word functions as a trap. For contemporary or practical application believers realize that anything that does not align with God’s Word functions as only a trap for the soul. The World has set up various traps that attempt entrap believers into a false sense of security of joy (i.e., social media, Netflix, movies, sports, material resources, etc.). From this perspective, trials and persecution function as a purifying agent in the believer’s life. Believers must remove any spiritual distractions that fail to offer deliverance from trials if they desire to remain spiritually focused.
- Remain in Prayer (v. 86). The psalmist finds a breath of fresh air as he reminds himself of the reliability of God’s Word to lead him. He has already stated that he meditates upon it and now he will focus on the simple, yet often neglected, practice of prayer. The psalmist says that in the midst of his persecution he prays to God, “Help me!” The psalmist understands the importance of calling upon God’s grace through prayer as a means to remain spiritually focused. Believers must continue to practice the spiritual discipline of prayer if they are to remain spiritually focused.
- Reflect God’s Character (v. 87). The psalmist says that in the midst of his persecution he, “did not forsake Your precepts.” This passage shows the psalmist commitment to live for God in a faithful manner. The term “forsake” is actually often used to describe God’s commitment to His people. He will never leave nor “forsake” His people (Deut 31:6; cf. Heb 13:5; Matt 28:19-20). Because God does not forsake His people; the psalmist reflects such character in the midst of His persecution. The psalmist longs to reflect the character of God’s commitment when they themselves remained committed to God in life’s most difficulty moments. Man was created for God’s glory and must strive to reflect the image of God in all areas of life. Believers must strive to reflect God’s character in the midst of persecution in order to remain spiritually focused.
- Revival through Obedience (v. 88). The psalmist ends by calling forth from God personal revival. The drive behind such revival is for a deeper commitment to the obedience of God’s Word, “so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.” In times of immense persecution or trials believers may struggle with even the most simplest acts of obedience (i.e, Bible reading, prayer, commitment to Christian fellowship). These acts of obedience are intended to bring life and encouragement to the saint. A failure to find new life in obedience has a devastating impact on the saint. Believers must find life (revival) in continued obedience in order to remain spiritually focused.