I was struggling through a difficult day yesterday and my husband gave me the words of Psalm 143 to chew on. They didn’t impact me as much yesterday as they did when I just reread them this morning.
[A Psalm of David.]] Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. 2 And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. 3 For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead. 4 Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate. 5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. 6 I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah. 7 Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. 8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. 9 Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me. 10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. 11 Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble. 12 And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.
So many times my spirit feels overwhelmed and the enemy beats me down with doubts and fears and guilt. He reminds me of my insufficiencies and shortcomings, and makes me feel worthless. When I come to the Lord, I don’t want someone else pointing the finger at me and bringing judgment (v.2), because I already feel the weight of my sin and guilt. I come to the Lord for help, knowing that He has already promised to forgive those shortcomings (1 John 1:9).
Verses 3-4 give such an accurate description of how I felt yesterday. Defeated. Beaten into the ground. Persecuted. Alone in darkness, with no way out. Desolate.
But what is the solution? Verses 5 – remembering everything God has done in the past. Meditating on His works. Recalling the works of His hands. What has God done that would encourage me in times like this?
- He created me. He knows me intimately and He knows my weaknesses
- He died, for me. He sent His beloved Son Jesus to take my place, even though the sin was my fault, and my choice. Even though it was sin that brought me to such a low-point in my life. Repeated sin. Something I struggle with often. But He forgives it – over and over again.
- He has worked in my life in specific ways to bring me to the point where I am today. I am the wife of a man called to be a pastor. I am part of a missionary team preparing to plant a church in New York City. I am on deputation. I have five small children. I am a homeschooling mom. There were parts of each of those life callings yesterday that were combining to make me feel out of place, crazy, and defeated. But each of those roles that I have are the works of God. Each one was by His design. So He knows that the combination may sometimes be hard (and even crazy), but He is there.
- He has provided for me in specific ways, repeatedly. I was able to graduate from five years of college debt free. He has provided for us on an ongoing basis to enable us to live in New York City. He has met every single need, and more, as we have traveled around the country living out of our van on deputation. Just last week He provided for our brakes to get fixed, without a hiccup or hang-up of any kind. The works of God’s hands are marvelous.
- He allowed me to grow up in a Christian home. He gave me a husband and godly in-laws. He has drawn our oldest daughter to salvation.
- I have been privileged to sit under the teaching and preaching of some of the most amazing servants of the Lord at Ambassador Baptist College.
- I grew up in a wonderful church that emphasized to me the necessity of giving my life to serve God however He would have it. I was blessed to have many missionaries stay in my home and influence me as a teenager. I have been able to spend the last five years marinating in the teaching of my pastor in Brooklyn.
- He has gifted me with friends who regularly encourage me in my walk with God, raising my children for the Lord, and my life on deputation and in ministry.
The next step is to thirst after the Lord. Yesterday, when I felt my life was falling apart around me (just a feeling, but a strong one at the time!), I really just wanted to spend time with the Lord. I wanted Him to lift me up. I realized that I begun my day without Him, and thus immediately jumped on the roller coaster ride that dumped me where it did. I stretched out my hands to the Lord, and I said, “Help!” My soul was thirsting for the Lord to do something amazing in me that I knew I could not do.
I didn’t have the patience for my children.
I didn’t know what to do for homeschooling
I didn’t have enough arms to meet everyone’s needs.
But God did.
The rest of this chapter is just like balm on my raw soul. Today my future looks brighter. Yesterday I saw only darkness and despair. This morning His Word is soothing my soul and giving me hope, just as verse 8 says. “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” Things always look better in the morning, but better doesn’t describe it when we have the Lord. His lovingkindnesses reach down and give me just the Scriptures I need. He takes the broken pieces of my soul that I stretch out to Him and He mends it. He directs my steps. He clears my eyes, and He reveals His tender love. That’s an amazing God!
In troubling times, we can flee to the Lord (v.9)
He teaches us what His will is for our lives. If I am doing His will, then I don’t need to feel the weight, pressure, and guilt of all that I am not doing. These are the things which the enemy constantly brings to my mind and piles on my shoulders. But the Lord gives strength for me to do His will. Then, when it is done, I can say with Him in John 17:4, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”
The Lord quickens us, and brings us out of trouble (v.11)
He will eventually cut off the enemy and destroy the one who afflicts my soul (v.12).
I am the servant of the Lord. Sometimes I forget this truth. I try to be the master in my life. But I am just a servant. He is in control. He is behind all the circumstances, weaving a beautiful story and picture so that all around me can see His power and gory. Even if the only ones around me are my family members, He reveals His power. They need to see it too. My kids need to see God at work in Mommy’s life.
I sat down this morning and prepared to do the next lesson in my Bible study in Romans 8. But as I opened my Bible app, I noticed it was still on Psalm 143, and so I reread it. When I turned to the lesson for today, I found that the title was “All Things” and I would be digging into Romans 8:28. How appropriate that the Lord would teach me about “all things” following a day when I felt “all things” against me for evil.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28