Psalm 34:4-5 New King James Version (NKJV)
4 I sought the LORD, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
After 77 years of toiling, tilling, and taming the land for himself and his family, the old farmer lay in a sterile hospital bed, unable to communicate verbally, but knowing he was surrounded by family who loved him and wanted to walk with him as far along his last journey as God would allow. Twenty-four hours earlier, he suffered a stroke which would take his life after cancer had destroyed his once robust body.
His wife of 50 years and his many now-grown children offered songs, comfort, and prayers as the hours slowly and sadly slipped away. At last his bright blue eyes closed on earth to open looking to Him. The man’s face, no longer showing the gray pallor of sickness and death, reflected no shame, not because he was well-known, respected, or worthy but because he had trusted Christ as Savior and knew that God heard his prayers.
The old farmer was a man of few words. As his cancer progressed he knew his funeral was imminent but he didn’t offer suggestions for music, pallbearers, or eulogies. However, after his death, when his pastor looked at the man’s well-used Bible, he immediately found words to comfort family and friends. Every verse of Psalm 34 in the farmer’s Bible was underlined. Soft creases on the corners of the paper showed that the Bible had been handled often by the huge hands that toiled to provide for his family.
The farmer and his wife sought God through every event in life. They married at the beginning of the Great Depression, picking corn by hand with a team of horses pulling a wagon. Their seventh child, an infant girl, died on a cold Christmas Day before she had even been given a name. They lost a 160-acre farm because of debt. They saw hail ruin a crop when it was too late in the year to plant another one. The crop insurance they thought they had purchased was not effective because the agent neglected to properly record it. There were always hungry children to feed.
Each day the man and his wife sought God in prayer. They sought Him, not as if they were seeking something difficult to find, but as if they had confidence He would hear and deliver. They didn’t just pray and plead, but offered their simple lives to Him, worshipping through their responsibilities.
When the Lord delivered the old man from his fears about the future, he understood that God could and would calm and remove fears, walk with him through fears, or carry him should his steps falter from fear.
After their farm was gone, the man, nearly retirement age, with hands stained from machinery grease and with four children remaining to get through high school, found a job at a local grain elevator. He lost that job when the owner’s son came back home from the city to enter the family business. The old farmer was exhausted by the struggle, but he didn’t complain. He got up when the sun rose and sat down to a simple supper around the time it set each day. His children and grandchildren came to him when they needed advice. In his gentle way, without raising his voice, he reassured them that God could be trusted.
The old farmer relied on the entire Word of God, especially the Psalms, to give direction. He knew that other men–prophets and kings, disciples and doubters–had also called upon the Lord and He was faithful to hear and to deliver.
A courageous heart stopped beating when the old farmer took his final journey — from earth to Glory. He looked to Jehovah-Jireh and his craggy face showed radiance, being illuminated the Spirit of God. He knew that his Beautiful Savior would lead him to the far side banks of Jordan in His time.
That old farmer was my father, and he left me the legacy of trusting God in my own disquietude. I know God will provide courage and confidence as I walk with Him, in a very different world from my father’s, through my own freeway of fears. Now I will call out Psalm 34:1-3:
I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make its boast in the LORD;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.