FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 17, number 1, January 4, 2018
“They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region; they did not find a way to an inhabited city. They were hungry and thirsty; their soul fainted within them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble” -Psalm 107:4-6
What I Would Say to Matt Lauer?
By now we all have heard many times of the sexual assault allegations leveled by several women against Matt Lauer, host of NBC’s Today show. Lauer has readily admitted to many of them. These actions (along with those of Harvey Weinstein) have led to the Me Too movement where countless women are coming out of the closet, so to speak, and naming names of men who have sexually assaulted them in the workplace. We have an epidemic on our hands. If I had the opportunity to speak with Matt Lauer, what would I say? I think I might begin with a brief exposition of Psalm 107.
“Matt, your actions, and those of men like you, are painful illustrations of a man wandering in the wilderness, trying to find his way back to the inhabited city. You had everything going for you, but perhaps due to the pressure you felt to stay on top, you sought to relieve that pressure and satisfy yourself at the expense of these young women. We all are looking for purpose, joy, freedom from guilt and shame, and the assurance that we are loved. You are no different.
Where then can you find it? Jewish King David wrote Psalm 107 about one thousand years before Christ was born. In the introduction in verses 1-3, David says that certain things are always true of every true follower of God. For one thing, the life of every true believer in Christ is marked by praise and thanksgiving. God has blessed you with great talent, fame, and wealth. Have you ever considered that one way sin can be defined is a failure for you to give thanks to God, to praise Him for His mighty blessings in your life?
David refers in the Psalm to those who are wandering in desert regions, in the wildernesses of life. They really do want to find their way to peace, love, joy, and fulfillment. They are on the quest for the inhabited city. The metaphor here is of a man in the desert, perhaps near death, hungry and thirsty, who is lost and has no hope of deliverance. He is at wits end. He has existential questions. He really wants to know why we are here, how did we get here, why is there so much suffering in the world? To go further, he asks, ‘How can we find peace? What happens to us when we die? How can I live purposefully, peaceably, principally?’
Matt, are you asking these questions? Have you found answers to them?
You are hungry and thirsty for more. You have fainted in the heat of the wilderness, in your quest for meaning and purpose. You are like the man who is lost on a mountain in a blinding blizzard. You are like one whose plane has gone down in the ocean, who is drifting in a life raft. You have no water or food, and sharks are circling your raft, waiting anxiously to devour you.
So, Matt, what is the remedy for your wandering in the wilderness of life?
It is found in verse 6. ‘Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble. He delivered them out of their distresses.’ When a person begins to realize what he must do but cannot do, then he begins to cry out for help. A drowning man, whose boat has capsized, and has exhausted all of his strength, cries out for deliverance from the icy waters of Long Island Sound. Matt, the true and living God, the great lover your soul, is very quick to hear the cry of those who call upon Him. It is so very simple. If you cry out to God in your trouble, He promises to deliver you.
But this begs the question—what does it mean to ‘cry out to the Lord?’ Well, consider this. Such a man gives up his search for other things. He comes to realize that these are all a dead end. He finally comes to understand that he does not have all the answers. He asks God to do in him what he cannot do for himself. And what is that?
He asks God to take away his wandering, his unbelief, his philosophical speculation. He asks God to make him a new person, to place within him the very life of God. This life, by the way, comes through the work of the Holy Spirit who takes out the rebellious heart and replaces it with the heart of Jesus, what Jesus Himself calls ‘being born again.’ In other words, he is asking to have a personal relationship with the true and living God.
Matt, this is what you need right now. You must come to the inhabited city of peace, joy, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Will you agree that you are still in the wilderness of speculation, doubt, fear, guilt, shame?
And what happens when God hears your cry? You will enter the inhabited city. Verses 8 and 9 tell us that your life will be characterized by praise and thanksgiving. ‘Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, for His wonders to the sons of men.’ Why? Because He has satisfied the thirsty soul of those like you who have sought comfort in pleasure and power.
Will you not cry out this very moment to the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who died for you, who was raised from the dead for you, who is living now at the right hand of the Father in heaven, who is always praying for you, who promises to save you completely for all eternity? You have lost your way, but perhaps now you realize that Jesus is the only way back to the Father. You have been looking for truth, but maybe you now know that He is the only truth. You have been looking for life in money, prestige, power, and sex; but God has wondrously opened your eyes to see that He is the life you need. Will you not cry out to Him this very moment? If you do so with sincerity, surrendering to His will, then He promises to save you from your sins, judgment, and even from yourself. He promises to deliver you from the domain of darkness in which you have been living all your life and to bring you into the kingdom of light and life. Come to the inhabited city, Matt, and quench your thirst from your many years in the desert of your soul. Satisfy your hunger by eating the bread of life, the Lord Jesus, who came down out of heaven like the Manna in the wilderness. You must come as a pauper, not as a self-reliant king or television celebrity. You must understand that your previous search has been all in vain. You must come with a sense of desperation, as a drowning man crying out for mercy and deliverance. You must come as one in abject helplessness, as one in the cold, icy waters of Long Island Sound, about to go under for the last time. But Matt, when you come in this manner, He will see you and save you. Come to Him now. Do not delay. Quit your wandering in unbelief and uncertainty. Enter into the joy, rest, and peace of the inhabited city of Zion.”