Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Contend, O LORD

Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and buckler;
Arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me.
Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame;
May those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay.
May they be like chaff before the wind,
With the angel of the Lord driving them away;
May their path be dark and slippery,
With the angel of the Lord pursuing them.

Since they hid their net for me without cause
And without cause dug a pit for me,
May ruin overtake them by surprise—
May the net they hid entangle them,
May they fall into the pit, to their ruin.

Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD
And delight in his salvation.
My whole being will exclaim,
“Who is like you, O Lord?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
The poor and needy from those who rob them.”
(Psalm 35:1-10)
My mother was healed of leukemia about four years ago. Recently, it has come back. She has been in the hospital for about four weeks now and has received a round of chemotherapy, but a new complication has arisen in the form of an infection that has hindered her breathing.

As we drove up to Charlotte to visit her this past week, I have been meditating on Psalm 35, particularly in view of my mother’s need. She is a woman of a faith; she belongs to the LORD, and His promises belong to her. So I have been praying this psalm on her behalf, calling on God to contend with the leukemia that is contending with her and fight against the infection that is fighting against her.

Meditating on this, I have been reminded about the twelve spies Moses sent to reconnoiter in the land of Canaan, which God had promise to give to the children of Israel. Ten spies came back, reporting that the land was indeed very good, but that it was full of giants. There we saw the giants … and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:33). However, the other two spies, Joshua and Caleb, came back saying,
The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, “a land which flows with milk and honey.” Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them. (Numbers 14:7-9)
The two remembered what the ten did not: God was with them — He would be contending with those who contended with them. The two did not see themselves as grasshoppers in the eyes of their enemies, or even in their own eyes. Rather, they saw these giants as grasshoppers in the eyes of God.

Leukemia and other forms of cancer are often seen as giants treading on us little grasshoppers. Fear strikes the heart at the mention of their name. But when we know the Lord as our help, we can look to Him to come against those things which come against us. Neither leukemia nor infection, nor any other sickness or disease, can match the strength of our God.

The NKJV rendering of verse 10 has particular significance for me in this situation.
All my bones shall say,
“Lord, who is like You,
Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him,
Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?”
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood, and the blood is produced by the marrow which is in the bone. When God comes against the enemy for our sake, our bones — my mother’s bones — shall praise Him. We are believing God to give her fresh, new marrow to produce rich, healthy blood.

 God contends on our behalf to fight against our enemies. That is why Jesus came. He took on all our foes at the cross — and prevailed. And now, we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37). All that is left is for us to take hold of and apply that victory. This we do by faith. Please join your prayer and faith with ours as we say,

LORD, contend with the sickness that is contending with my mother; fight against the infection that is fighting against my mother. Cause all her bones to praise You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.