“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.”
If anyone knew the meaning of “distress,” it would be David. Prior to being installed as king, he was many times in desperate situations with Saul, and his life was in jeopardy. David’s reign was certainly not free from conflict and trouble. The word “distress” means “narrow, a tight place.” The word speaks of pressure and trials. David said that when he had been in “distress,” the Lord had “enlarged” him. God had intervened and turned his narrow, tight place into a roomier or open place.
When we think about our trials and troubles and the distress they can bring, it is reassuring to know that when we are in “distress,” God is able to “enlarge” us. There are two ways that I am confident God enlarges us through our difficulties. First, He is able to help us deal with the problems and find rest and peace in the midst of them. We are not alone, especially during times of testing and tribulation. God can make the impossible seem manageable. He can bring a calm to our storms with the power of His Word. His presence lightens our load and comforts our hearts. When it seems that we are being “pressed out of measure” (II Corinthians 1:8), we can call on Him. In our text, David refers to the power and privilege of prayer when we are in trouble. “Hear me when I call…hear my prayer.”
There is another way that God enlarges us when we are in “distress.” He uses our trials to increase us or to help us grow. It is through the fires of afflictions that we really grow closer to Him. It is through those times of testing that the dross is removed from our lives, and we are purified and prepared for what He has planned for us. Trials do not diminish us, but rather they increase our capacity through God’s grace. We become more Christ-like as a result of the “distress” we go through.
We learn in the dark times that God is always there and can give us “songs in the night” (Job 35:10). When we think we are alone with our impossibilities, we discover
that we have a “friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). God is faithful and has a purpose for our problems. He will use our times of “distress” to enlarge us.