When the world is full of trouble and/or your own life is going sideways are you tempted to believe that God went on vacation or that He just doesn’t want to be around? It’s quite alright to feel like the prayers we offer seem only to echo in the room.
In those seasons of life I make the hymn, O Worship the King, my prayer. “Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail;
in Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail.
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end.
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.”
Yes, that is my heart’s desire; to hold on to Him in faith.
There is real comfort in knowing that the Scripture includes passages written by people in struggle as well as victory. David cries in his song – “O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?” (Psalm 13:1-2, NLT) “O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble?” (Psalm 10:1, NLT) I have cried – “Lord, why does Putin get to sit in his opulent mansion while millions cower in fear under the rain of his bombs?” Yes, I pray with questions even as I allow the kind of passages I quoted above to remind me that my Abba (Father God) understands and that my spiritual fatigue is no sin in His eyes.
There is a song written by a godly man whose faith was battered. His words, recorded in Psalm 73 said that he looked around at those who did not fear God and found himself full of envy, doubting God, wondering at the unfairness of it all. What was his choice? Bitterness and faithlessness? No, he chose worship! “I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood … Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalm 73:17, 25-26, NLT)
Will you choose to humbly worship the Lord today? Will you override the scream of emotional pain to remember that your vision is limited, your ability to understand His ways not yet complete? God asks us to “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, NIV) It is not an easy choice, but it is always best to remember that He will carry us through our storms and to remain faithful.
If you know someone who is struggling, whose heart is full of turbulence, whose words are fearful or questioning – please hold back on criticism! Those seasons require compassion more than correction. And then too, keep from speaking in spiritual cliches or superficial god-talk. “It will all work out” may be true but in their anguish that may feel more like salt in a wound than salve. Offer to listen, empathize. Yes, breathe a silent prayer for courage and renewal.
I am reminded that our calling as Christians is to – “Be Jesus with skin on.” Jesus was not remote. He wept! A touch, a hug, a prayer for comfort, and saying “I’ll have faith for you right now while you’re hurting so badly,” will bless that one much more than a sermon about the unchanging faithfulness of God.
Giving that person a safe and loving place to vent to anger, to express fear or doubt often has a spiritual benefit. When the inner tension breaks the Holy Spirit can flood into their heart and mind with renewed peace. In time, their tumbling thoughts will find order and be shaped, once more, by the truth of the Scripture. Yes, it is true that a person in a faith crisis because of his own willful disobedience to the Lord needs a wisely worded, courageous rebuke, but ‘speaking the truth in love’ is a gift that a thoughtful friend offers only at the Spirit’s impulse.
Here’s a word from the Word from the 73rd Psalm to which I alluded a moment ago. Know it well. Sooner or later, you will need it, too.
“Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. . . .
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”
(Psalm 73, NIV)
(Video of this blog at this link)
O worship the King all glorious above,
and gratefully sing his power and his love:
our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.
Your bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distils in the dew and the rain.
Frail children of dust and feeble as frail –
in you do we trust, nor find You to fail;
your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end!
our maker, defender, redeemer, and friend.
O measureless Might, unchangeable Love,
whom angels delight to worship above!
Your ransomed creation, with glory ablaze,
in true adoration shall sing to your praise!
Robert Grant, public domain