Hope for Hurting Hearts
Throughout Psalm 119 the writer voices his love and delight in God’s Word amid all types of situations, even in the face of death and dangerous circumstances.
Every day we are inundated with statistics pertaining to the Coronavirus. Several times a day the media reports the data of confirmed cases, deaths, outbreaks, and those tested. There are also stories about the effects of the pandemic on the economy, and the toll on mental health. We need to be aware of what is happening, the dangers, the steps we should take to stay safe, and the recommendations the governments are proposing. I’m sure you have noticed that sometimes the information we hear can be conflicting and confusing. There comes a time when we need to turn off these voices, and remember to be still, and know that God is in control. Let's look further into Psalm 119 to see what other help God has for us during this time.
The writer seems almost inconsolable in verses 25 & 28, except that he ends each desperate utterance with words of hope.
“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to Your Word.” (vs 25)
“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word.” (vs 28).
If you are feeling alone, confused, afraid, or perhaps just uneasy read verses 25–40 and notice what the writer asked of the Lord, and what the writer promised to do.
The Psalmist reminds us that through devastating times God’s Word is our anchor and guide. The chapter is full of verses that bring comfort and hope to our hearts and minds. They also point to areas in our life that may be contributing to our anxiety and fear.
The following verse gives us a bit of insight as to the reason some are feeling so helpless and alone.
“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” (vs 39)
I find that I often need to review my choices of entertainment and leisure activities. If I don’t do this, I find that my state of mind can become negative. God teaches in Philippians 4 that when we keep our eyes on Him, rejoicing, praying, obeying, and trusting with a heart of thanksgiving He will keep our hearts and minds at peace.
"4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness[d] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
The following verses provide a helpful list of guidelines to use when determining if a certain activity is something that will be pleasing to our Saviour.
"8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
Filling our hearts and minds with God’s Word, and “turning our eyes away from worthless things,” help us view the current events with God’s perspective. Keeping God’s Word at the centre of our being gives rise to a balanced life, free from the helplessness and negativity being experienced by so many who are without God.
God’s promises bring Hope for Hurting Hearts.
Motives & Opposition
We are well into ‘Sheltering’ during this COVID-19 pandemic. How are you doing? As for me, I'm a little tired of hearing that question, but then again, don’t I want people to ask about my well-being? Probably I do. We may each be facing new subtle challenges, perhaps we could even call them enemies. These foes are threatening us mentally, emotionally and perhaps even physically. Sometimes the listening ear and godly counsel of a dear friend is helpful, but this passage reminds us that our greatest and best confidant is God. He knows all about these new enemies and He knows how we should best deal with them. He won’t tell anyone else our secret struggles. I am thankful when God prompts someone to give me a call to cheer my day, but God won’t tell them why He has prompted them to call me.
Today let's look at the third stanza of Psalm 119:
17 Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
19 I am a sojourner on the earth;
hide not your commandments from me!
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your rules at all times.
21 You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments.
22 Take away from me scorn and contempt,
for I have kept your testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against
me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
24 Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counsellors.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:17-24). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
You may notice that the writer continues to express his passion for God’s Word. He begins by asking God to take care of him so that he is able to live his life and live it in obedience to God's commands. He then asks God to "open his eyes" so he is able see the wonderful truths in God's Law.
Sometimes we find ourselves beginning our prayers to God with requests. Many times these requests are for ourselves, and often they are for others. During this pandemic many of us are asking God to protect us and our loved ones. We ask him to keep us safe from the coronavirus and to spare our lives. But what is our motive behind these prayers? Is it because we are afraid to die? Is it because we love this life and don't want to leave it? It could be because we don't want to leave our family to face certain responsibilities that our leaving would require of them. Or, is your primary motive like the Psalmist’s? Do you want to discover and learn all that God has to teach you in His Word -- ".....that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."
I must admit, I've asked the Lord to keep me healthy these past months, but not until I read these verses did I examine the motive for my prayer. My Bible Study and prayer life is growing deeper as a result.
Later, the writer refers to himself as a "sojourner", someone foreign to the country. He requests guidance and help in learning the rules. His deep desire is to comprehend how God’s Word will help him navigate this unfamiliar land. He needs to understand the instructions and follow God’s directions through life so he won’t get lost.
We, like the Psalmist, are on a journey through unfamiliar territory. We are trying to learn new ways of doing life, and it is not easy. It would be much easier if there were a roadmap, or a GPS that would guide us to right decisions. I'm sure our government leaders wish it were possible to give definitive answers to the hundreds of questions they face each day. They are going to make mistakes, but let's show God's grace. They have not travelled this road before.
We, however, have God's Word to guide us. Letting God's word penetrate our mind, heart and soul will change our attitude, behaviour and character. Several years ago I was challenged to listen to a recording of Scripture as I read it. Because it was so long ago, the recordings were on cassette tape. You may be old enough to remember how cumbersome that would have been. Today, there are several apps that allow us to listen to Scripture in almost any version we prefer. I have begun to read and listen again. The truths of God’s Word penetrate my heart and soul even deeper when I read through the eye gate, and listen through the ear gate.
Stanza three also talks about enemies making fun of the writer for following God. Being made fun of hurts just as much as an adult as it did when you were a child. Hopefully, we have learned to manage it better, but it still bothers us. We need to remember that it is all too easy to make fun of, or criticize those who see things differently than we do. Let's be faithful followers of Christ, and not ‘make fun of’, nor criticize unduly, the decisions made regarding the handling of the pandemic. Constructive criticism given to the right people is helpful. Stirring up more worry and discontent is not helpful to anyone.
The writer finishes this stanza by promising to follow God no matter who makes life hard for him, and he reiterates the fact that his highest joy comes from God's Word.
"Lord, help me to find my highest joy in Your Words. Help me to look to You and Your Word
for each day's directions, strength, and the right attitude to meet
any enemy, and all opposition with Your grace."
Guarding and Guiding
In this series of studies, we are looking at each of the twenty-two stanzas in Psalm 119. I believe this chapter will help us learn to traverse this New World we are facing in 2020 and beyond. Let's look at these verses.
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to Your Word.
10 With my whole heart I seek You;
let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 I have stored up Your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are You, O LORD;
teach me Your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
all the rules of Your mouth.
14 In the way of Your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts
and fix my eyes on Your ways.
16 I will delight in Your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:9–16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
This stanza points out the various ways that help us endeavour to "Keep Pure". Yes, we learned in the first eight verses that it is impossible to be perfect, but that should not deter us from striving to be our best. These verses give us strategies to help us to do just that.
Verse 9 instructs us to guard our way so that we can be pure. The word guard brings to mind soldiers standing at attention, ready to protect and defend the people and property within their charge. Guards are ready to fight off any enemy threatening harm. How do we guard against attacks from the enemy? Verses 10-16 point out some very effective tactics.
Read these verses prayerfully several times. As you ponder this stanza the second time, underline, or take note of the words that indicate the writer’s passion as he wrote these words. It is hard to escape seeing how he deeply felt. What emotions arise in you as you read these verses?
What actions did the writer take as a result of his deep love for God's Word? Underline those in a different colour.
The writer found pure joy and delight in learning, meditating, memorizing and putting into practice what the Lord had taught him in God's Word. It seems that the writer's heart was so full that he could not keep the truths of God's Word to himself. He had to share them with others. Verse 13 points out that: “With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.”
Today, amid this pandemic, we must share God's Word. There are many who need Christ, who is able to give them peace in this storm. As I write, God is speaking to me. Sharing my faith does not come easily. Many of you can identify with my fear of rejection. I hesitate sharing Christ face-to-face. As an introvert, most of the time this isolation is not a problem for me. I am searching my heart, asking the Lord to show me how to speak into the lives of others, because this does not come naturally to me. How can I bring comfort and peace to those who are struggling? God has a different method for each of us. I believe it must start by finding the same joy and delight in God's Word that the writer of this Psalm found. Once God's Word becomes the food we cannot live without, once it becomes our sustenance, we will not be able to keep it to ourselves. God will show each of us, how, by using our unique personalities and spiritual gifts, we can best share with others what it means to have a personal relationship with Him.
My prayer for you today is that:
Guard your heart to be faithful to the Lord,
Guide others to know God’s love and forgiveness .
Debi Snider... more
Go here to sign up for New Blog Notifications.