(By Rachel Joyce)
I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation, I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles (Ps. 34:1-6).
We have a God who is greater - greater than our helplessness, greater than our fear, greater than our troubles. He can take our desperation and turn it into radiant joy. The psalmist was gripped by fear, but he didn’t hide it or deny it. He brought it to His God. If you’re anything like me, sometimes you’re ashamed of your feelings. God brings you to a hard place where you see no possible solution, or the pain is greater than you can tolerate in your own strength, and the feelings that surface in your heart do not coincide with the tidy picture of the Christian you think you should be. Frustration, anger, fear, and a sense of overwhelming despair do not seem to be ok feelings for a “good Christian.” However, searching through the Scriptures, especially the Psalms, we come to understand that God does not want us to hide our feelings from Him, and perhaps our concept of what a good Christian looks like doesn't necessarily align with His. He made us. He knows our struggles (Ps.103:14). The psalmist did not try to conceal his feelings from God; what he did do was couple them with prayer and praise. Over and over throughout the Psalms, we see how the psalmist expressed his fear and despair in God’s presence and at the same time reaffirmed God’s faithfulness, praised God for His greatness, and held tightly to His love. I think this is a good pattern for us.
Life hurts. And sometimes our situations are more than we can cope with on our own. When we are overwhelmed, God wants us to take our maelstrom of emotions to Him. Our deepest sorrow, our most intense grief is not greater than His ability to soothe and heal. We just need to take them to Him so He can heal and comfort us. And we need to remember to praise Him through it all. Casting Crown’s song, “Praise You in this Storm,” expresses this so well. God wants to use our sorrows and grief to express Himself more fully to us. When God turns our despair to quiet hope, when He heals wounds so deep that we never thought they could heal, when He drains our anger and fills us with His peace, then we see His power in real and undeniable ways. This is something that no one can ever take from us. It is pure gold. And the weight of glory far surpasses anything we can begin to express. I think this is the process of perfecting our faith, and it continues on. It is not a neat, simple process. Our struggles are real and the trials sometimes stretch on and on. He will keep teaching us of His faithfulness and His power through whatever trials we are experiencing whether it’s one prolonged trial or many. He will hold us, whether they are old or new sorrows and difficulties until we are finally made new in His presence. There is such deep, intense joy, even in the pain, as He meets our needs with Himself. May you find all you need in Him today.