Monday, March 31, 2014

Be Strong and Let Your Heart Take Courage


Yesterday it occurred to me that bravery and courage don’t feel very brave or courageous.  In fact, they feel exactly like fear.  And sometimes maybe even like schizophrenia… because on one side there is a compulsion to do something, and the other side of you responds with a resounding, “hell no that will kill me”.
Today in my Bible reading I was in Psalm 31.  It ends with:  Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!  Wait, what?  Take courage?  Like the courage I was thinking about yesterday?  I had to go back and read the whole Psalm again.  And break it down so I could understand how David could say with such confidence and power, “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”?
Look at what David says about his own condition below, on the left side: 
enemies have hidden a net for me
my affliction
distress of my soul
my eye is wasted from grief, my soul and body also
my life is spent with sorrow
my years with sighing
my strength fails because of my iniquity
my bones waste away
I have become a reproach to my neighbors because of my adversaries
I am an object of dread to those who see me
I have been forgotten
I have become like a broken vessel
terror on every side
they scheme against me, plotting to take my life
I am in a besieged city
 
In You, O Lord, I take refuge
let me never be put to shame;
In Your righteousness deliver me!
Incline Your ear to me
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
Be a strong fortress to save me!
For You are my Rock and my Fortress;
for Your name’s sake You lead me and guide me;
You take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for You are my refuge.
into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me O Lord, faithful God.
I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in Your steadfast love,
because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the distress of my soul,
and You have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a broad place.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
But I trust in You, O Lord,
I say, “You are my God”
My times are in Your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Make Your face shine on Your servant
Save me in Your steadfast love.
O Lord, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon You,
Let the wicked be put to shame,
Let the lying lips be mute
O how abundant is Your Goodness
which You have stored up for those who fear You
and worked for those who take refuge in You
in the sight of the children of mankind!
In the cover of Your presence You hide them from the plots of men
You store them in Your shelter from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the Lord, for He has wondrously shown His steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city
You heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to You for help.
Love the Lord all you His saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful.
 
Then look at what he says about God and to God, above on the right side.  I notice something huge and obvious here… namely, that David’s look at his own trouble is not nearly as long as his look at God. 

I notice some not so obvious details too.
It is God’s righteousness, not David’s, which delivers him.  v.1 in Your righteousness deliver me!
David asks God to be his Refuge, then recognizes that God already is.  v.2-5 Be a rock of refuge for me… for You are my rock… You have redeemed me.
It is for the sake of God’s own name that He leads and guides David, not David’s.  v.3 for Your name’s sake You lead me.
Affliction does not mean that God has left me or doesn’t love me anymore.  v. 7 You have seen my affliction; You have known the distress of my soul.
When David is most depressed and distressed and alone, and even as he recognizes his own sin, he cries out to God.  v. 9-14 … But I trust in You O God, my times are in Your hand.
God’s hand is stronger than my enemy’s hand.  v. 15 My times are in Your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies…
Even the bad times in my life are in God’s hand.  v. 15 My times are in Your hand;
God stores up abundant goodness, and me, in His shelter.  How cool is that!  v.19-20 … how abundant is your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You… In the cover of Your presence You hide them… You store them in Your shelter…
Through all this, God’s steadfast love is mentioned over and over.  STEADFAST LOVE.  It stands strong.  It doesn’t change or waver.  Even in the midst of bad things. 

Now, go back and read the whole Psalm 31 again, in the order that David wrote it.  Don’t just read it.  Pray it.  Pray it and take heart with David.  Afflicted Believer, take heart.  This was written for you.  Don’t let fear rule over you.

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!

 

©Rebecca A Givens, 03/31/14
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