Rattling around my brain was a rant, a pointed tirade. Thoughts and emotions were angry, lava on the page, a written tantrum. I’ve been trying to compose it for a couple weeks. Finally, the Holy Spirit intervened, softening my heart before I hit, “publish.”
It was an extremely me-centric post complete with all the all the ways I perceive people to be careless in their words, all the ways I’m still hurting, all the ways people don’t understand, all the ways I want the focus to be about me.
But I deleted the whole thing.
Let me try again. I’ve had a blog hiatus for several weeks, not because I didn’t want to write, but because I couldn’t. It’s been a rough patch. Joy was the carrot dangling from a stick, always ahead but just out of reach. The imagery of a battle is also fitting. It’s been a constant fight to rejoice, and I grew tired of fighting. I grew weary of “talking to myself.” It was much easier to listen instead. Thoughts and emotions spiraled down. The weight of doubt began to crush. I reasoned, “Well, I’m in good company. Even Spurgeon battled this type of spiritual depression. Clearly, David and the other psalmists knew it also.”
I understand when the psalmist says “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night.” (Psalm 42:2-3) I wanted God, but He didn’t seem to be listening.
I think of the verse that says God keeps tears in a bottle, symbolizing that He’s intimately aware of sorrow. I imagine my tears fill an olympic-size swimming pool.
It’s also been a season of doubt. The same old lies snuck in. God does not hear me. God has forgotten me. “Beauty out of ashes? Well that’s just crap.”
You get the point.
I’ve set a familiar scene and delineated the rising tension. Here’s the relief.
“These things I remember…”
“Why are you cast down O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”
“My soul is cast down within me; therefore, I remember you.” (Psalm 42)
My confident expectation is in the God who created me, pursued me, purchased me back, and won me through the blood of His Son. Jesus more than any other knows what it is to be forsaken. He was alone, so I don’t have to be.
I remember the joy and delight of intimacy with God. I “shall again praise Him.” Delight will come again.
I remember that He is the Rock, the stability when waves toss me about.
I change. He changes not.
My Savior provided the very thing I long for, intimacy. I have total access to the presence of God.
I remember who God is. He is good and sovereignly uses all things for my good. He empowers the impossible—“Rejoice always.” But for grace through the accomplished work of Christ, it is a crushing command. (I Thess 5:16-18)
I don’t rejoice always. I don’t always have an abiding attitude of trust, or take pleasure that all things in my life are according to God’s will.
But Jesus accomplished what I cannot. He rejoiced always. He gave thanks in all things. He prayed without ceasing. His performance is the standard, but it is also my standing. Rather than crush me, in Christ the command allures. It brings me to dependence.
Because I know the good news of Jesus is real, I can rejoice. I can have abiding trust, overflowing thankfulness, and unceasing dependence.
O my soul, hope in God!
“Lord I gave in to the lie that you do not hear me, that you aren’t listening. But, I remember. I actively recall and bring to mind your goodness. I remember the days of delight and abundant joy. I remember the “glad shouts and the songs of praise.” I know they will return. Let me say with the psalmist. “Hope in God!” When my emotions scream the opposite, I tell myself what is true. You are salvation. You are steadfast love. You are the Rock. You allure with lasting satisfaction. You remind me that ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you. Know that I am with you. You will never be alone.’ Yes, Lord Jesus. This is true.”
I can’t walk this life alone. God uses His word and the community of faith so beautifully. He brings me back. I’m so thankful for a friend who pointed me to Psalm 42. Even amid his own struggle, he was an instrument of grace to me. I’m thankful for a sermon that crushed me with the weight of “rejoice always,” but rebuilt me with the beauty that I am able to rejoice because of my standing in Christ. So, I lift my head, I hope in God and I see these marks of lavish grace!