Devotion for Saturday, March 28, 2020

From: Wendy Beard


In the past few years, I have taken to praying the Psalms.  I don’t do it every time I pray, but there are times when I honestly don’t know what to pray for in a given situation and other times when I simply don’t have the words to describe what or how I’m feeling.  Romans 8:26-27 says, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”  For me, the Psalms are an avenue that the Holy Spirit can use to help me pray when I get to the point of frustration in expressing myself or in struggling to see God’s will.

One of the Psalms I often turn to is Psalm 42.  As a planner, I take some time on a Monday morning, usually as I’m sorting through wash in my laundry room, to walk through my week: what do I need to get done at work, which nights I have meetings, who has sports practices and where each of my kids needs to be each evening or who needs to be picked up from school on a certain day and what errands should be run.  That in and of itself can sometimes be more than a little overwhelming.  In the midst of that, often without even thinking about it, my heart will cry out the words of Psalm 42:2,

“I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him?”

It is then that I am reminded that the answer to that question, that question of, “When can I go and stand before Him?” is ANYTIME!!!

So there, in the midst of the laundry piles, I will work through the Psalm in my mind…

As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him?
Day and night I have only tears for food,
while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
“Where is this God of yours?”

I find the answer to the question in verse 3 in the words from another Psalm, Psalm 139:5-6, which says:

“5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!

How reassuring is that?!?  He is with me, but He also goes before me and is behind me.  I can almost hear David weeping and see his head bowed in worship as he expresses his awe in verse 6 at how absolutely incredible this is to him!

But, let us go back to Psalm 42.

My heart is breaking
as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
amid the sound of a great celebration!

As David recounts the past, he remembers his joy which prompts me to ask the question, “Where is my joy?”  We sometimes confuse joy with happiness, and the two are not the same.  Happiness is something I feel when my husband surprises me with an unexpected date night, when I see my kids’ smiles as they are out on the athletic fields enjoying the exhilaration of playing a sport and the camaraderie of being part of a team or when my strawberries start blooming, and I know in just a few weeks we will have ripe, fresh berries ready for picking and eating.  But joy is not a feeling.  Joy is a choice: a choice to find something to celebrate even though I feel downtrodden, a choice to embrace the newness of change rather than to let that change overwhelm me; a choice to step forward into a situation with anticipation of what may come next rather than anxiety or fear over the unknown.  I am reminded that I need to CHOOSE JOY!

David continues:

Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!

Now I am deeply discouraged,
but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
from the land of Mount Mizar.
I hear the tumult of the raging seas
as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life.

In verse 7, David does such a wonderful job of describing my feeling of being overwhelmed, of waves sweeping over my head so that I find it difficult to breathe.  But he immediately follows that up with a reminder of what else God is pouring over me… His unfailing love!  God who gave me life has a love for me that will never fail!

“O God my rock,” I cry,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I wander around in grief,
oppressed by my enemies?”
10 Their taunts break my bones.
They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”

11 Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!

The final verse of this psalm convicts me.  Yes, my week may be busy, and I may feel like I may not have time to breathe under the waves of schedules and responsibilities.  But in all of that, what are my eyes focused on?  Are they focused on me and what I need to get done or on a God that Romans 15:13 describes as, “…the source of hope [that] will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.”  There is that word again… joy… along with another word that I seek, peace.

But what else is David calling us to do?  He directs us to not only look to God, but to put our hope in Him; hope is something I sometimes have difficulty finding on my own.  So, as I turn my eyes to where they need to be, on the God who loves me with an unfailing love, I look back to the last sentence of Romans 15:13, “Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”  The hope I am searching for, the hope that I need to have, is not one I can cultivate myself but one that comes from the trust I have in the one true God!

And in midst of the crazy busyness of life, I find my breath again.

The next time you feel like you can’t find the words to express your thoughts or you are at a loss of what to pray or maybe just that your brain isn’t able to slow down enough to pray, I want to encourage you to search through the Psalms and pray through one of them.  My hope and my prayer is that in doing so you might find the same refreshing nourishment for your mind, heart and soul that I do.