A friend of mine has been praying the psalms over me daily.  Today, I am claiming Psalm 34 for myself. 

2011 taught me a lot.  I know the story of Esther and Job like never before.  I accept God’s love and grace for me like never before.  I understand the sacrifice in which Christ made for me on the cross like never before.  I know and am more confident than ever before that “Nothing touches your life that has not first passed through the hands of God. He is in full control, and because He is, He has the sovereign right to permit trials that we don’t deserve.” (Charles Swindoll) 

I have listened to those who have gone on and on about how God did not allow any of these bad things to happen.  He would not have allowed this outcome.  They have stated in so many words that this outcome is punishment.  Again, here is my statement to you….

I will begin with an amazing quote from Charles Swindoll that better states anything I feel I could write at the moment.  In this quote, he is speaking on the story of Job found in Job 1:1-12. As he (Job) sleeps, another scene opens to us that Job doesn’t see. Similar things happen in our lives as well. When we’re not aware of it, God is carrying out a plan that would amaze us and, on occasion, shock us. He is permitting things to get underway that we would have never expected. Without Job’s knowledge, something is happening in the heavenlies. We are transported from Planet Earth to the third heaven to witness its occurrence.
As the Lord God looks about, He sees His angelic servants who have come to present themselves before Him. And why not? They’re accountable to Him. They do His bidding as they carry out His divine will.
Suddenly the Accuser appears among the other angels. He is the evil one who accuses God’s people day and night.
Pause and remember that Satan is not a little imp with a red body, carrying a pitchfork, and sitting on one of your shoulders whispering ugly little nothings in your ear. That’s a medieval caricature that Satan would love for you to believe. Instead, he is the most attractive, brilliant, powerful archangel that God ever created. He has not lost his brilliance. He has not lost his power. He has certainly not lost his appealing beauty. He is also insidious. Satan’s favorite method of working is behind the scenes. Because he is invisible does not mean he is not real. As we will see a little later, he has personality. And he is engaged in a relentless commitment to destroying God’s people and opposing God’s plan. It is this insidious adversary we find standing in the heavenlies among the group of faithful angelic servants.
Look at the permission slip He hands Satan. “All that he has is yours to deal with.” He adds a caveat, “only do not put forth your hand on him” (Job 1:12). “Don’t you touch his life. Don’t touch his body or his soul or his mind. You can remove his possessions, and you can attack his family, but leave the man, himself, alone.”
Satan departed from the presence of the Lord with a sinister grin. Keep in mind, Job knew nothing of that dialogue and the evil that would soon befall him. And remember this: we don’t know what wicked schemes Satan is planning against us either.”
There it is my friends.  The key to the story.  Keep in mind, Job knew nothing of that dialogue and the evil that would soon befall him. And remember this: we don’t know what wicked schemes Satan is planning against us either.” Everything was taken from him.  He lost everything because God gave permission to Satan to test the faith of Job.  God did not personally inflict the pain, death and heartache upon Job Himself but He gave Satan the Ok. God gave permission to Satan to do as he pleased to Job however there was a restriction in which Satan had to abide to. Do you understand that?  Satan was given limits.  He could not step out of what God permitted!
God is in control of everything that takes place.  Satan has great power and creativity but God sets the boundaries.  There are a lot out there who do not want to hear that much less believe it.  There was a time I didn’t want to either.  I remember when Columbine happened.  I was young in my faith and questioned why in the world God would allow such a tragedy to take place.  I didn’t understand how he could allow innocent children to die.  I can now understand my own questions of why but only because of my faith and confidence in who He is.
God has a plan we do not understand.  He has a reason behind every event whether good or bad.  Yes, sin and Satan are behind the horror that takes place but God allows those things so that we may draw closer to Him.  He allows these things so that we may place our hope and trust in Him alone and not ourselves.  We cannot control what happens.  Every event whether great or small is accomplished, determined, played out only after it has passed through the hands of God and His approval has been given. 
God sees all things.  He sees the big picture.  We are only a small portion of a big plan.  In our darkest hour, we cannot see an inch in front of us but it leaves us vulnerable to trust God for direction.  We’re left searching for His presence and His voice.  For me, one of the exciting things I have found is knowing that He is right there.  He is allowing a process to unfold in order for my faith to grow.  I have confidence in knowing that He will not allow evil to overcome and have the victory.  In the moment, it may appear that evil has won but I have confidence in His promises that there is still so much more to my story and so much more to come. 
Psalm 34 says, (vs. 15-18) “The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth. The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
I believe this!  I claim it!  I know that God’s hand is upon me and He sees all things.  I believe He hears every word spoken by me, to me as well as knows every tear I have cried.  He is fully aware of the hurt I have had and the cause of those hurts. I know He will rescue me from those who have caused harm.  I believe it!  I claim it with everything in me because He has proven time and time again that He IS faithful!! Through it all I have realized that God turns His back on those that do harm and evil to others.  I believe a point comes when the heart of those who do evil becomes hardened and God’s hand is no longer upon them. 

Psalm 34 also says that (vs20)“The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;not one of them is broken.”

We are not promised a life without heartache and storms.  Without those things we would never grow in our faith. However we are given the promises throughout scripture that God is on our side and that He WILL rescue us each and every time!  He protects me all the time, every time!

Psalm 34:21-22 says that “calamity will surely overtake the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. But the Lord will redeem those who serve Him.  No one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.”

How can you argue with that verse?  God promises to punish those who are wicked and who devise evil schemes.  You do not cause harm to His children and go unpunished.  He redeems those who serve Him and we can take refuge in His arms of love and know that in the end, He has the victory! All the time, every time!!

I have been through a lot but I know others who have been through so much more.  We are all dealt crummy hands in life at one time or another but the choice is ours.  Will we cling to Christ and trust His best for us or will we allow doubt to creep in leaving us to forget His faithfulness?  The choice is yours to make!  What choice will you make in 2012?