For an athlete, one of the best pieces of advice ever spoken goes something like this: “You can’t control circumstances, but you can control your reaction.” In other words, in a sports game you can’t control the weather, the crowd noise, the official’s terrible calls, or the guy on the third row who found you on facebook and is yelling your girlfriend’s name at top volume. But you can control how well you perform. You can control your reaction to circumstances, but not always the circumstances themselves.
This idea is true in much of life, and it can get pretty somber pretty quickly. For instance, you cannot control the slow death of a loved one. You cannot control whether a sibling makes a wreck out of their life. You cannot control a drunk driver that kills an infant. You cannot control the atrocities committed by genocidal factions all over the world. You cannot control whether your parents love you (or each other). You cannot control whether the very foundations of your life come unraveled.
But you can control the way you react to these circumstances. And more importantly, you can choose what to think about God in light of these things. Will you trust him or hate him? Will you run to him or away from him? Will you see circumstantially, or will you see beyond what is visibly apparent?
David tells us his choice in Psalm 11:1-3. His reaction actually comes before the circumstances are even named:
In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
The first two lines are David’s words, followed by a quote, presumably from one of David’s trusted councilmen. Understand that this psalm was written while David was on the run from his enemies, uncertain of whether he would live to see the next day. The Bible history narratives about David (1 and 2 Samuel) tell us that circumstances were downright tragic for him at the time this psalm was written. So it is natural that we would see David’s closest advisors telling him it is time to flee once again. “Hit the panic button because your enemies are bearing down on you like never before, King David. Your foundations have been shaken.” But David’s reaction is shocking:
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