I guess I could blame it on . . . ‘er, I mean attribute it to the Holy Spirit. Or, perhaps I just need to concede my mind can work in strange ways. But this morning, reading in Psalm 119, a verse I’m noodling on has me thinking about the need to “double down.” Now “double down” isn’t found in my ESV translation . . . not found in any translation . . . not even found in the Message. It’s a term that comes out of the gambling world . . . a risky strategy where someone doubles their bet in blackjack based on the strength of the cards they’ve been dealt.
Now I’m not thinking gambling . . . I’m not even thinking high risk . . . but what I am thinking is about leaning in, or doubling down, when things get tough. And the hand we’re holding? Well, it’s the word of God.
I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word! . . . The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from Your precepts.
(Psalm 119:107, 110 ESV)
This theme of the role of word of God in times of affliction has been popping up regularly over the past several mornings as I’ve been reading Psalm 119. And the message I’ve been picking up is that when times get tough, that’s not the time to loosen our grip on God-breathed revelation. In fact, in times of affliction . . . in times of trial . . . in times of enemy attack, that’s the time to lean in . . . to read more ardently . . . to pray over more fervently . . . to follow more determinedly. When the going get’s tough, that’s the time to double down.
Even though princes sit plotting against me, Your servant will meditate on Your statutes. . . . My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to Your word! . . . The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from Your law. . . . It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes. . . . If Your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. (Psalm 119:23, 25, 51, 71, 92 ESV)
Why is it that the Word often drops off the radar when we find ourselves up to our eyeballs trying to deal with life? The heat gets turned up and we fail to draw upon living water? Things get confusing and we go to leaning to our own understanding rather than desperately seeking the mind of Christ as revealed in the Scriptures given to make that mind known. We find ourselves treading water in the deep end and, rather than cling to the Word of life, we panic and flail about trying to keep our heads above water when in fact He wants His strength to be known in our weakness?
Rather than allowing trials to squeeze out our time in the Word of God before the God of the Word, we need to hold on tighter. Asking more diligently, knowing He will answer . . . seeking more purposefully, believing His way will be found . . . knocking on the door more ardently, trusting that He who owns the keys of the kingdom will open the way of escape and make clear the way of resolution.
In times of trouble, we need to double down with the word of God.
Double down by His grace . . . double down for His glory.
And that’s no gamble.