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Out of the Depths

Series Title: Going Up with the Psalms of Ascent (chapter 19)


These edited transcripts are taken from Dwight's most loved audio series, Highways in Their Hearts. Click here to see the downloadable audio version in our online store.


Learning to trust God is of paramount importance. We are to base and build our lives upon His Word as Jesus did and teaches us to do.

Yet when we carefully study the holy text, we encounter a suffering Messiah. We read about the apostles and other men and women of great faith experiencing trials and tribulations, facing hardships and sufferings, sometimes even unto death. This leads to a profound truth that we must wrestle with.

We sanctify (honor as holy) the Name of God by enduring trouble just as much as being delivered from that trouble.

I want you to see that our theology must be big enough to encompass the whole of the biblical text, not just strategically selected scriptures. We must stand upon God's Word from Genesis to Revelation, believing He is constantly working for the good in every situation for those who respond to His call to love Him with all their hearts.

Think of it this way: spiritually speaking, kingdom people are engaged in warfare (Eph 6:10-13). Without a complete or adequate biblical theology, our faith forebearers would have failed to pass on the faith—and so will we. TV preachers and bestselling authors talk about going from glory to glory, victory to victory, but there is no overcoming unless there is something to overcome.

To have victory means you must first go to battle. And battles are messy: there are wounds, hardships, and casualties.

You must first go through the valley to get to the mountain peak. If your theology is only a mountain-top theology, when you face the valley of the shadow of death, your faith will crumble because your theology can't support it. But if you grasp, at a deep heart level, that God has not forsaken you, then you can proclaim with the psalmist, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. As you endure trial and persist in clinging to God, He is honored and glorified.

This is the stuff of pilgrimage, of having a highway in your heart to go up into the very presence of the Living God. To make the arduous journey, we must prepare to face hardship and pain. Are we any better than our master?

My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death (Mark 14:34).

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Or his first followers?

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have (Philippians 1:29-30).

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name (1 Peter 4:12-13, 16).

You are those who have stayed with me in my trials (Luke 22:28).

Study the whole subject of faith in the Bible, and you will see it is typically spoken of in the context of trials and tests. The classic example, or archetype, if you will, is Abraham, the father of the faithful (Heb 11:8-12, 17-19).

The faithfulness of faith proves its mettle under the heat of affliction.

Most of us are like teabags. Our true colors come out when we get into hot water, and those colors aren't pretty. I'm including myself here. At times, I am such a weak disciple that the least little thing can put me in depression for days. How is that honoring God? But—by His grace, because He is faithful—I keep pressing on, and I think that does honor Him. Faithfulness is the victory that overcomes the world.

Suffering can be a purifying force. What I mean is this. In times of prosperity, when things are good, we pray with our lips; in times of distress, when things are bad, we pray with our hearts.

God can use suffering for the good in our lives, creating spiritual value by cleansing and disciplining to help us grow up in our most holy faith. Hardship can purify us from selfish purposes and activities. It can teach us not to lean so much on ourselves and others. It can bring us to more complete dependency on Him. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me (Psalm 131:1).

The Hebrew word for humility comes from the same root as the word for affliction. Affliction can humble you, and God exalts the humble.

The composer of Psalm 130 speaks out of hardship and distress, from the depths of outward and inner despair. The Hebrew here literally means you don't have a foothold. It's like you are in deep waters and have nowhere to put your feet. Do you know that feeling? So does your Father in Heaven.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!

O Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,

O Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness,

that you may be feared.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

my soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen for the morning,

more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the LORD!

For with the LORD there is steadfast love,

and with him is plentiful redemption.

And he will redeem Israel

from all his iniquities.

- Psalm 130


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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.

Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.


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