Enlarged Heart? A Good Spiritual Habit.
- By Dr Joshua Raj
- Published 09/9/2008
Dr Joshua Raj
Dr Joshua Raj is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and an ordained minister. He became a Christian in medical school when the complexity of the human body revealed God’s beautiful design. His Christian journey has included opportunities to minister in Indian churches of different denominations in many countries. Dr Raj is a graduate of Seminary Theology Malaysia and has a postgraduate degree in practical theology. He has a wife and three children.
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. Psalms 4:1
As I meditated on this passage, it occurred to me that we always talk about having a big heart. A heart for the poor, for example. A heart for social issues. A heart for the gospel. We constantly appeal to each other to have a big heart when it comes to giving of out time, talent and treasure.
Yet, it was Spurgeon who put it clearly – “this is another example of David’s habit of pleading past mercies as a basis for present favor". In other words, “count your blessings” and remember that the God who helped you before will help you again!
The word “enlarge” means that in the difficult times, God revealed more of Himself and His blessings to David. The stifling presence of hopelessness and depression opened up into joy and hope. For David, it was something that he could truly hold on to.
The question for us today is:
Do we allow difficulty, whatever it may be (persons, situations, illness etc), overwhelm us?
The principle of this Psalm is that there is a solution.
1. Recollection: God has helped before. We have been through the valleys. He has brought us through. Let us reflect on those past mercies and use them as the basis for present favor.
2. Request: Ask God to enlarge our heart, to open up the vistas of knowledge and compassion that He has shown. The word “rachab” translated “enlarge” means to make broad or wide. Jesus will make the way look broad and wide when we think it is hopeless.
What about the unfairness of our situation?
In other words, none of us is ever in the same situation. Unfairness is built into the world.
Almost all of us automatically think it is someone else’s fault when a difficulty arises. If we cannot blame someone, we are apt to blame God (often subconsciously), by thinking that He has done it to teach us a lesson. While that does occur, and God does chasten us if we are in deliberate sin, I believe that we will be aware of that almost immediately through the prompting of the Spirit.
Either way, the answer is to come before the throne of grace, where we can receive mercy and grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4: 16
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
"Hear me when I call", says David. So can we. Do we really call to Him in distress? Or do we sulk and brood for a while before we do so? I know that I am often guilty of spending too much time thinking about the problem and brooding before I come to God in prayer.
“Hear me when I call”
I love that sentence. It is a sentence we can use with confidence and power. WE use it because God has been faithful in the past and He will continue to be faithful. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is always with us. It may be that we do not understand what He is doing, but He is there nonetheless.
Who do we call?
The God of our righteousness. The righteous God who imputed His righteousness to us the day we accepted the Lord Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
What will He do?
He will enlarge our heart. He will open up the paths to hope and joy. The difficult situation may still be there or be removed. It does not matter because God will reveal new things to us that relieve our heart of the burden.
Hear my prayer
David just assumes God will listen. And why not? God is our heavenly Father. And He will listen and act according to His perfect will and plan. All we have to do is trust. I have no difficulty with trusting God.
Let us make this our good spiritual habit – to count our blessings always, and to plead past mercies as THE basis for present favor.
Dr Joshua Raj