Psalm 31 . . .

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In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;

let me never be put to shame;

deliver me in your righteousness.

Turn your ear to me,

come quickly to my rescue;

be my rock of refuge,

a strong fortress to save me.

Since you are my rock and my fortress,

for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,

for you are my refuge.

Into your hands I commit my spirit’

deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.

 

I hate those who cling to worthless idols;

as for me, I trust in the LORD.

I will be glad and rejoice in your love,

for you saw my affliction

and knew the anguish of my soul.

You have not given me into the hands of the enemy

but have set my feet in a spacious place.

 

Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress;

my eyes grow weak with sorrow,

my soul and body with grief.

My life is consumed by anguish

and my years by groaning;

my strength fails because of my affliction, 

and my bones grow weak.

Because of all my enemies,

I am the utter contempt of my neighbours

and an object of dread to my closest friends – 

those who see me on the street flee from me.

I am forgotten as though I were dead;

I have become broken like pottery.

For I hear many whispering,

“Terror on every side!”

They conspire against me

and plot to take my life.

 

But I trust in you, LORD;

I say, “You are my God.”

My times are in your hands;

deliver me from the hands of my enemies,

from those who pursue me. 

Let your face shine on your servant;

save me in your unfailing love.

Let me not be put to shame, LORD,

for I have cried out to you;

but let the wicked be put to shame

and be silent in the realm of the dead.

Let their lying lips be silenced,

for with pride and contempt

they speak arrogantly against the righteous. 

 

How abundant are the good things

that you have stored up for those who fear you, 

that you bestow in the sight of all,

on those who take refuge in you.

In the shelter of your presence you hide them

from all human intrigues;

you keep them safe in your dwelling

from accusing tongues. 

 

Praise be to the LORD,

for he showed me the wonders of his love

when I was in a city under siege.

In my alarm I said,

“I am cut off from your sight!”

Yet you heard my cry for mercy

when I called to you for help.

 

Love the LORD, all his faithful people!

The LORD preserves those who are true to him,

but the proud he pays back in full.

Be strong and take heart, 

all you who hope in the LORD.

 

I love that there are Psalms like this one in the Bible – Psalms that show it is ok to cry out to God in despair.

xx zs

‘Christ Be In My Waking’ by Stuart Townend

Christ be in my waking,
As the sun is rising,
In my day of working,
With me every hour.
Christ be in my resting,
As the day is ending,
Calming and refreshing,
Watching through the night.

Christ be in my thinking,
And my understanding,
Guarding me from evil,
Walking in the light.
Christ be in my speaking,
Every word a blessing,
Pure and not deceiving,
Grace to all who hear.

Jesus, this is my devotion:
All my life to know You,
Every day to walk with You.
Saviour, You’re my deepest longing,
You’re the One I live for,
Teach me, Lord, to walk with You.

Christ be in my gladness
For the joy of living,
Thankful for the goodness
Of the Father’s hand.
Christ be in my sorrow,
In my day of darkness,
Knowing that I follow
In the steps He trod.

Christ when hope has faded,
Nothing left to cling to,
Every pleasure jaded,
Every well is dry.
Christ the loving Shepherd
Draws me with His kindness,
Leads me from the desert
To the streams of life.

xx zs

Rejoice?

In his book ‘To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain’, Matt Chandler shares the story of when his son, Reid, was a little over a year old and while in his crib had a seizure and was unable to breathe. He writes:

The day when the ambulance disappeared out of my sight, knowing that God is God – that nothing is too difficult for Him, that His love and His sovereignty are real – was my foundation. When my heart and mind wanted to go to every plausible reason why despair made sense, the fact that nothing is too hard for God became my reason, my rationality. 

This is why the mature Christian is reasonable. Because, as Paul says, “the Lord is near,” even in a desperate situation like the one I described. Because in that moment, here’s what I had at the ready: the knowledge that the God of the universe, the God who rescued and saved me, is not Himself powerless at all in that moment, is not at all surprised or shocked by that moment, is not reeling one bit or trying to figure out what to do in that moment. The God of the Bible is not an ambulance driver who shows up after the wreck and hops out and thinks, Okay, let’s do some triage here. The God of the Bible does not show up after the accident and try to fix it. That’s not what He does.

He’s there. He knows.

And on that day, the Lord was near, and my son’s life was not too difficult for Him to save. He could be trusted with my son. Reid was and is His. My wife is His. My daughters are His. I am His.

My prayer, then, is, “Lord, help me rejoice in You in this moment. Because I know You are in control. I know You love me; I know You love my family. And I don’t understand what You’re doing, and I don’t know how things are going to work out. But help me to acknowledge that if I have You, I have everything.”

My prayer in that moment, seeking joy in all circumstances, is similar to Job’s – “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:!5) – and Jehosephat’s – “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:20).

Now, let me be very clear, because I’m not trying to make this whole exercise stupid. I didn’t sit in my car with an idiot grin on my face, saying, “Well, I’m glad the Lord’s here, and this is great! Rejoice in the Lord always; and again, I say rejoice!”

That wasn’t happening. That’s what we might call an unreasonable theology. God is not glorified when you act happy about horrific things. 

He’s glorified when, in the deepest possible pain you experience, you still find a way to say, “I trust You. Help me, because my heart is failing in my chest. Help me! My son is Yours. His soul is Yours. His life is Yours. You loaned him to me for Your good to begin with. And I know I’m supposed to hold him loosely, and if you take him home, he’s Yours…but I’d like to keep him.” 

I am still learning what rejoicing in God looks like for me in my life, but I hope and pray that I will be able to have an attitude like this amongst the pain.

xx zs