In the past several days I have had conversations with several different people of various ages who are struggling with their own difficult situations. They trust God for their lives but wrestle with the emotions – fear, anger, hurt. The question of whether to squelch those emotions and not take them to the throne of grace or to lay their hearts before the God of all comforts asking Him to remind them of His presence and letting Him bring a supernatural peace was evident with each word.
At times, I think each of us have been there. Our commitment to and love for Christ compels us to believe His best for us, but our emotions, often so raw, cry out with questions.
As I have written in another blog, there are times we feel like saying as the father of the young boy in Mark 9 said, “I believe; Lord, help my unbelief.” But sometimes the enemy of our souls wants to make us think we cannot share that with God; we cannot let Him hear our heart’s cry. How far from the truth that is!
Our reactions are not a surprise to God. He knows our needs, our frailties, and our fears. And He longs for us to nestle in the arms of our Abba Father, our Daddy God, and be refreshed and renewed. Because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, we can boldly go to Him with our pain, not in defiance, but in humility and in assurance.
Hebrews 4:16 reminds us, “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
When we read the Psalms, we find that often David fearlessly poured out his soul to God, and God calls him a man after His own heart. He laid bare his fears, his sin, and his anger at circumstances and injustices, crying out to the Father to be heard and longing to hear, see, and experience His presence. David acknowledged his questions and what disturbed him; but, in the end, David gave God praise and trusted in His control. He knew, as in Psalm 5:3, that he could approach the throne of grace with assurance that God would hear and respond, “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”
In Dr. Ralph Davis’ book, “The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life, Psalms 1-12” (a book which spoke volumes to me and which I highly recommend), he refers often to this pattern of David’s life: to acknowledge the cries of his heart and then give God praise, resting in the truth of who God is!
In Psalm 3, David cried out “Yahweh, how many are my foes! How many are rising up against me!” But as Dr. Davis points out,
“In the middle of his mess, [David] is saying [in verse 3], ‘I know my God.’ In face of the threats and ruckus and theological opinions of his enemies, David turns his eyes to his protecting, sufficient, restoring, accessible God. The God-centeredness of his gaze keeps him steady while his enemies try to decide what precise level of scum he is.” Psalm 3:3 – “But You, Yahweh, are a shield around me, my glory and the One who lifts my head.”
Again, in Psalm 6, David pours out the “agony he knows.” In essence, David often says in the Psalms, either directly or indirectly, “How long, O Lord?” Dr. Davis writes,
“…the problem of time contributes to his agony. This is one of our perennial problems with God’s ways. We have our calendar. We have figured out how long we can hold out. And somehow Yahweh allows our urgent deadlines to pass. Why? David’s ‘How long?’ means: How long will you allow this to go on? Why don’t you intervene and give me relief? Why does He wait? Why does He hold off? When we say God will intervene sooner or later, why does it always seem to be later? Our troubles, it seems, are as much with God as with our circumstances.”
But then Dr. Davis reminds us that David settles his heart on the character of God. David “is resting on Yahweh’s character, in the sort of God he has declared himself to be…[the God of covenant love, ‘hesed, the devoted love that pledges never to let go of us’]. Sometimes this is your only stay in trouble…” And though nothing has changed in that one moment, he presses in on truth that sustains his hope, “For Yahweh has heard the sound of my weeping! Yahweh has heard my plea for grace! Yahweh will accept my prayer!” (vv 8-9)
As we acknowledge God’s sovereignty in our lives and grow in our love and knowledge of Him through His written word, the Bible, we also mature in our understanding of His heart and the freedom we have to lay bare all that we are before Him – even our cries.
God points us to the Psalms to remind us that it is what He allows, even desires of His children. He knows our hearts even better than we do ourselves, but He delights when we ask and expect Him to respond, to draw near to us. He is the God of all comforts and He delights in us drawing near to Him so that He, in turn, draws near, holding us close regardless of our circumstances and our questions.
Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Love this song by Josh Wilson – A great reminder that when we can’t stand on our shifting sand, He carries us!