The oft-declared words “Oh my God” can be an irreverent criticism of what God is doing or as a mindless response to some experience or statement. As Stuart will address in a follow up article, we are never to profane God’s name. However, there are numerous times in the Bible when the statement “Oh my God” is used reverently as a cry for help. I can well remember when such a reverent cry was indelibly written on my mind.
I was seven years old. My grandfather had recently died and our family was driving home from the funeral in two vehicles. My mother had purchased my grandfather’s car from my grandmother and she was driving with my three sisters as my brother and I were with my dad in the car in front of them.
We were driving on USA Route 30 through a town called Valparaiso, Indiana.
As my father looked in the rearview mirror he witnessed another vehicle slam into the side of my mom’s car. He saw the force of the impact open one of the back doors and watched my two-year-old sister being flung out onto the field next to the road. The police would later say that this probably saved her life. I will never forget my father’s words of desperation—“Oh my God”—as he witnessed this horrible sight. I remember it as a reverent and desperate cry for help.
I have a clear recollection of my father calmly pulling his car to the side of the road. He told me and my brother that everything was okay, but that we must neither get out of the car nor turn around. He then got out and attended to my mother and sisters. I broke the rules and looked. He comforted my mom as he awaited the ambulance. I am sure that he was praying with her.
My mother had a broken back and neck. Miraculously, my sisters were completely uninjured. My dad’s God, who would many years later become my God, had graciously intervened. It would be a long road to recovery, but I can testify that my God was very kind to my mom. In fact, just the other day, at 85 years of age, she joined her local gym!
In Psalm 25, David, as in so many psalms, is undergoing difficulty. He is beleaguered by circumstances in life. But his response is commendable. He cries out, like my dad so many years ago, “Oh my God”—not in an attitude of criticism, not in a spirit of denunciation of how God is ruling His world, and not in a defiant tone of rebellion. Rather, in humble submission, David’s heartfelt cry is punctuated with an attitude of faith as he adds, “I trust in You” (v. 2). Such a cry of “Oh my God” is one of dependence, not defamation. David’s example serves us well. In all the vicissitudes of life, we are to confess our faith in God with the heart attitude, “I trust in You.”
When you are facing a dark valley, how do you respond? Do you unbelievingly complain, “Oh my God” or do you cry, “Oh my God, I trust in You”? The latter, of course, is the way of faith, the way in which we are to walk and talk.
Yes, for the Christian, life can indeed seem pretty hopeless at times. Sometimes, through no fault of our own, we become the objects of ridicule and abuse, or we experience some other deeply disheartening trial. It is precisely at such times that we must cry out, “Oh my God, I trust in You.” But even when our valley of darkness is the result of our own sinful folly, our response is to be the same. In fact, it is when our troubles are self-inflicted that we might especially need to hang on to the claim “my God” as we cry out, “Oh … I trust in You.” We need to cling to the gospel promise that our God will never leave nor forsake His children, even when our agony is self-produced.
The Christian is one who by the grace of God has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. But this is not a once-for-all belief (though it is a once-for-all justification). Rather, the Christian continuously believes on Christ. We keep beholding and relying on Christ—alone—as our sacrificial substitute who has once and for all satisfied God’s righteous demands. This means that when we sin it is acceptable to cry out afresh, “Oh my God, I trust in You.” We keep trusting God, and God gives us hope. In fact, the reason that we keep trusting is precisely because God keeps giving us hope (Psalm 31:24; 42:11; 71:5; Romans 4:18; 5:1–5)!
When Christians suffer the hardships of living in a fallen world (sickness, crime, broken relationships, economic loss, and all other kinds of sorrows) we faithfully need to cry out, “Oh my God” with an emphasis on “my.” That is, we belong to Him because of His unchanging, promise-keeping lovingkindness. In the wonderful covenantal language of the Bible, we are His people and He is our God (Psalm 95:7; 100:3). Because God is our Shepherd, we are the sheep of His pasture, and we know that He will tend to us well—very well. All we need to do is to cry out with the commitment, “I trust in You.”
Not every family experiences a motorcar accident with the same life-saving outcome that was ours. I understand that. The God-honouring cry of “Oh my God” is not a guarantee against tragic consequences. Yet it is always the right response. Such a cry, if it is followed by the demonstration of “I trust in You” does however bring glory to God; it yields good and healthy spiritual growth in the life of God’s child.
Because on the cross Jesus cried out, “My God, my God why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34), we who are Christians can confidently cry out in our trials, “Oh my God, I trust in You.” Now, that’s good news!