Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sandwiched by Faith

I love reading the Psalms and particularly enjoy the ones written by David. He seems so open and honest with his feelings and doesn't typically hold anything back. David doesn't worry about what everyone else might think about him, he just lays it all out there. Sometimes it can seem like he goes from one emotional extreme to another all in one psalm. That's something many caregivers are very familiar with. Each day can bring a wide range of emotional challenges and changes until we start to think we are losing it for sure. But we are in good company it seems.

In Psalm 31, David makes a lot of "I" statements. In the first few verses, David is declaring his trust in God. He says some things like:

I have taken refuge (in You)
I commit my spirit (into Your hands)
I trust in the Lord
I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness

These are some very powerful declarations and worth grabbing a hold of in our own lives. They are perspective changing declarations that can help us get our attitude in the right place when things have gone crazy in our lives. But at the same time David is making these powerful statements he lets loose with some honest and raw emotions. He says things in the next few verses like:

I am in distress
My life is spent in sorrow
My strength has failed
I have become a reproach
I am forgotten...
I am like a broken vessel

What caregiver has not gone through this range of emotions? On any given day we can feel like we just can't make it one more second, our strength is gone. And oh how familiar we can be with being forgotten. Loneliness can be one of our greatest battles along with depression. We can feel reproached, forgotten and alone...like we are broken and beyond repair. I'm so glad that David took the time to preserve this psalm because we can start to feel not-so-alone knowing that our emotions are not foreign - others have experienced them too and were not afraid to write about it.

In the church world these feelings are oftentimes forbidden. We are told it is because of "lack of faith" that we feel them. We are further reproached because we can't seem to get a handle  on things. So we stuff it all inside and become more recluse. But if David felt them and God approved that they be in our beloved scriptures - they must be a normal part of life. While we need to work through them like we see David do- we should not be shunned or condemned for feeling them.

We do see David get past his emotional hurdles. He begins to turn his focus off his situation and onto God. After he lays it all out there (which is really good to do sometimes) he starts to  encourage himself by saying things like:

I trust in You, O Lord
You are my God
I will call on You
Save me in Your lovingkindness
How great is Your goodness
You hide us in Your secret place

It's sort of funny that he sandwiches his emotions between his statements of faith. Seems like a really good place to put them to me! So it's okay to acknowledge how we really feel - actually it's healthy. Just remember to turn your thoughts back to God when you're done. We can pour our hearts out to God and be totally honest about things that are common to caregivers: anger, depression, hurt, and loneliness. And then declare who God is - whether we feel it or not!

David ends up speaking to the reader and reminding us to trust the Lord who preserves the faithful.  And he offers hope for those who hope in the Lord. 

Be strong and let your heart take courage
all you who hope in the Lord.

Today I will acknowledge the areas where I struggle. And then I will declare that He is my God and my hope is in Him. I will I let  my heart be encouraged and I will declare I trust in You O Lord, You are my God!  Will you join me?


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