“LORD, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he rescued them from their distress. — Psalm 107:6 NLT
Psalm 107 is a song of thanksgiving that describes the peril and salvation of four types of people: one who crossed a desert; one who was ill and was healed; one who traveled across an ocean; and one who was freed from prison. Together, these four categories can be expanded to encompass all kinds of difficult and dangerous situations. This psalm celebrates deliverance. But when you look closely, you will find that it also celebrates the dangers and difficulties as well.
The refrain throughout is, “LORD, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress.” This line is repeated four times in the psalm in reference to the four types of people being rescued from distress. In each instance, the difficulties they encountered led them to call out to God, and when they did so, they were saved.
In other words, had they not been in those perilous situations, they might not have called out to God at all. God explained that many of those afflicted “rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High” (v.11). These people were distant from Him. “That is why he broke them with hard labor; they fell, and no one was there to help them” (v.12). After going through difficulties, these people had no one to turn to but God. In the next verse they say, “LORD, help!” — and He rescued them again from their troubles.
There is a clear pattern and design in the challenges visited upon these people. They were distant from God, so He placed them in danger; they called out to God then, and a new relationship was born. Indeed, a new person was born.
I once heard this cycle explained very beautifully through an analogy. Imagine you are a seed planted in the ground. You are thinking, “This is it! I’m finished. I'll never see the light of day again.” Things get worse as you deteriorate and break down. But one day, you notice a breakthrough. A part of you has poked out of the ground, the beginnings of a tree. Suddenly you realize that you haven’t reached your end – in fact, your life is only beginning.
Going through difficulties is much like being that seed. We may think that our world is coming to an end: there is danger and things don’t look very good. But often this perceived danger leads us to a renewed relationship with the Lord. And when we can reach out to God in our times of distress, we are in a sense, reborn. Our end becomes our beginning and we continue to grow, becoming stronger and more connected than ever before.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President