Have you known frustrations? Ever experience unexpected hardships that completely derail your life? As a response, have you come to a place of enough and decided I’m just going to lie on my couch, over-caffeinate myself, and devour a box or bag of whatever unwholesome snack is nearby and binge watch some random tv show? I hope I am not alone in expressing how sick of the state of my life I am.
The World Upside Down
2020 started off great- God had presented me with scary, new opportunities and I was (kinda) willing to tackle those. Those opportunities would allow me to have more flexibility in my schedule, which I desperately needed. But then Covid hit and the world turned upside down, and my life became a blur. There were new stressors- handling eLearning/virtual school assignments; the death and burial of a family member; being tech support for my kids; creating weekly schedules to make sure everything gets done; and dealing with a minor but persistent health challenge. One day (actually on several days but for the sake of this post let’s just agree it only happened once), I declared that I was done. I no longer wanted to juggle schedules, respond to emails or texts, jump on a Zoom call, or hear anyone say “Mom, I can’t… or Mom, I need… or Mom, this won’t load.” Nope! That was it. I was officially over reality and would retreat into an alternate reality properly equipped with sugar and caffeine.
When I find myself at a really hard place in my life, I usually also find Psalm 37. The verses acknowledge a harsh reality; give comfort to the hurting parts of my soul; and add fuel to the waning fire in my heart. The Psalm starts out:
Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
Making Sense of A World Gone Wrong
When I first wrestled with Psalm 37, I had what I genuinely believed were enemies—people who did not wish good for me. At that time in my life, the literal interpretation of verses one and two were comfort to me. They confirmed that I should not worry about those people who were mean towards me. With 2020 as a backdrop, these words mean something else entirely. The Moody Bible Commentary notes that in these verses David is “addressing the problem of God’s justice- how can a good God allow good things to happen to bad people, and bad things to good people?” I looked around my life and questioned, “God, I am doing what you have asked and there are just so many struggles. Why is this happening to me? Why is this happening to my family or friend? How will we make it through this?” Ultimately, the real question is: God, how do I make sense of the world around me because this just does NOT seem right?
David’s words in Psalm 37 allow me to see the ugly reality but then bring me face to face with God’s justice, which is not at all like my sense of justice. My sense of justice causes me to look around and feel overwhelmed with worry, or self-righteousness. God’s justice deals with the situation in His timing and asks us to trust Him until then. Those two verses remind us that God is just and we do not need to worry or be discontented.
With these words, my exhausted soul wrestles to find a place of peace:
Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
There’s comfort in trusting in the Lord. I know this to be true, and I have experienced this as truth. But… if I am brutally honest, this trust does not come easily for me. I can trust the Father to do things that I have seen Him do before, but this year with all of its struggles is new. So, while my head knows God is trustworthy and there is nothing too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:17), my heart is ever-so-slightly panicking and considering alternatives. It is through these doubts, that the words “befriend faithfulness” make the most sense. When trust is difficult, be faithful to the God who has been faithful to you.
Praying The Psalms
A spiritual mentor recently counseled me that difficulty is an invitation to know God in a new way or to learn a new thing from Him. Verses four to seven advise us to delight in the Lord, commit [our] way to the Lord, and be still before the Lord and wait. Rather than approach these as things to do, which may lead to more busy-ness, approach them as an acceptance of God’s invitation to teach us something new. The Psalms are means of worship—words intended to be spoken to our Heavenly Father. If you have found yourself in a similar struggle this year, use these verses as prayer prompts.
Pray them as declarations of truth to encourage your soul -- I will delight in you or I commit my way to you, Lord. If your struggles result in doubt, then create questions to address your doubts--God, how can I delight in you with all of this? What does commit my way to you mean in this situation? Will you show me how to be still before you and to wait patiently? Either way, let’s just pray our way off the couch and into God’s presence.