Have you ever felt like the whole world was against you? Ever thought that everything you attempted to do was “wrong”?
I am sure that one young fellow felt that way recently. He was a visitor to the Bank of America in Corpus Christi, Texas. As a contractor, he was there to install a lock on the bank’s service room ATM.
While he was inside the ATM, the door closed behind him — and then wouldn’t open. And he’d left his phone in the truck!
According to NPR’s The Two-Way, “He had no one to call and no way to make his voice heard intelligibly through the machine.”
But this fellow, thinking everything was against him, did have one resource that he hoped would secure his “release”.
What did he have? Pen and paper.
“So people are coming by and using the ATM machine because it’s still operational,” a local police officer explained, “and he’s slipping notes through the ATM, through where you would get your receipt.”
One of the notes read, “Please help. I’m stuck in here and I don’t have my phone. Please call my boss.”
Most customers believed it was a prank — until “a good Samaritan took the situation seriously and contacted the cops,” who also initially believed it was a prank. Eventually, however, the man was freed.
As one officer put it, “It was just crazy.”
If you had been in that man’s shoes, how would YOU have responded? But then, although we may not be locked in an ATM, we may find ourselves “locked” in a variety of other circumstances.
It may be a job we dislike intensely. That lock could take the form of a health problem that, no matter what the treatment, just will not go away.
I was talking with a gentleman the other day from our neighborhood who was complaining that he even felt “trapped” in his marriage of 42 years. Or have you ever been falsely accused of doing something you did not do? Or perhaps you did something but your intentions in doing it were misinterpreted.
No matter what the situation, we all, from time to time, find ourselves in situations from which we wish we could extract ourselves. But the solution just does not seem to be evident or apparent in any way.
May I say this to you who identify with this right now: We are not alone! And God has provided for us some words of encouragement and help for us in just the times such as these.
In Psalm 46, we read those all-too-familiar words: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1), as well as the instructions for dealing with those impossible situations, “Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
These words encourage me not to give up on God, but rather to run to Him and then and there we will find help in our time of trouble.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes those words, as comforting as they can be, seem almost impossible to do, or even to take stock in.
What action steps do you include when you read “Cease striving”? What does your “To Do” list look like when you attempt to “know that I am God”?
While I understand that there ARE indeed things to do in such situations, I am also convinced that David, who did not write Psalm 46 quoted above, had the answer to that problem when he did write “Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; Fight against those who fight against me.” (Psalm 35:1).
John in 1 John 2, tells us that, when we are guilty of sin (and we all are!), we have an advocate in Jesus Christ the righteous one. And he is our advocate no matter when or where we are. He is our Advocate and Champion, our friend who defends us and contends for us in the courts of heaven and on the battlefields of earth.
Andrew Bonar, in his study on this psalm (35), makes these declarations (Please excuse the antiquated English!): “Plead my cause, O God, with them that strive with me. Art thou wrongfully adjudged in the erroneous courts of men? Are truth and righteousness gone aside from their proper places? Is equity neglected, and poverty overlaid? Well, have patience awhile, cheer up thy fainting spirits, there is a God that beholdeth the innocency of thy cause, unto whom thou hast liberty to make thy last appeal: Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.”
While it may seem like it is impossible, no matter what your plight in life, whether you find yourself stuck in a locked ATM or in an untenable situation from which you cannot escape, rest in the truth of the fact that the Lord is contending for you.
You may have no pen and paper to put through the receipt drawer of life, but you do have prayer!
Ask Him, and you will then discover that “The Lord is contending for YOU!”
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.