When the Heart Questions

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“How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)

“How long, LORD?” And in verse two the Psalmist asks that same question two more times. You can feel his pain and frustration. Yet, still, it is a prayer. An  earthy, honest prayer. “How long, LORD?” How long must I wait for your answer? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts?”

Our wrestling must give way to surrender. Our frustration must lead us to a place of yielding and new openness to GOD’s guiding voice. Our troubled hearts must turn to quiet listening and expectation. But, having done all that, the psalm doesn’t promise a quick-and-easy resolution.

Martin Luther described the Psalmist’s situation – and ours – as one in which “hope despairs, and yet despair hopes”. In spite of our deep, troubling questions of “how long, LORD”, the Psalmist declares “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.”

LORD, when my troubled heart asks, “How long”. teach me to trust in your unfailing love. Amen

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

Blooms in Barren Places

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When the deep places of your soul feel dry and barren, God promises relief. “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.” (Isaiah 35:1,2)

The prophet didn’t minimize the dryness of our “desert” experiences. Or the raw thirst we feel when our “parched land” cries out for our LORD’s cool refreshing and relief. Nor does he suggest that we simply “keep a stiff upper lip” through life’s dark places.

GOD promises divine intervention. He promises that the dry places of his earth – and in our hearts – will “burst into bloom”. Our weary souls will come to “rejoice greatly and shout for joy” and “see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our GOD.” (vs. 2) Then, along with all the language of glory and promise, there is a special encouragement for the weary: “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come.” (vss. 3,4)

Lord, in my dry places, teach me to wait in hope for your intervention. Amen

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

In Testing Times

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Often our truest, most honest prayers may be deeper than words can express. Pressures may make our hearts heavy. Uncertainty may cloud our senses. When the day ahead calls for strong resources, we can feel weak and defenseless under pressure, like “a leaning wall, a tottering fence”. (Psalm 62:2)

That was King David’s raw, honest appraisal of his situation. He didn’t shy away from speaking hard truth in his prayer. I wonder if it was his admission of that “hard truth” that opened his heart to see God’s rescuing resources.

In spite of feeling like “a leaning wall” and “a tottering fence”, he declares that “my soul finds rest in GOD, my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (vss. 1,2) David, the “leaning wall” and a “tottering fence” now speaks of finding a “rock” and a “fortress”.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in GOD; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.” Then, talking to you and me, he adds “pour out your hearts to him for GOD is our refuge.” (vss. 7,8)

Prayer – LORD, help me to draw on you as my rock, my fortress. Amen

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016