Let Him cradle you, comfort you, reassure you of his all-sufficient power and love.
Life is all a matter of perspective. If you've ever gotten tumbled in the ocean waves, you know the feeling of being completely out of control. Try as you might, there's nothing you can do. Except hold your breath and wait for the inevitable face plant…in the sand. In Psalm 73, Asaph sounds just about as confused. Life isn't fair. God seems silent. Asaph is befuddled. Jaded. Tossed and turned by waves of hurt and frustration.
In the Word
Read Psalm 73 today and pay special attention to verses 12-14:
This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.
Why? It's a question we all ask when life isn't the way we think it's supposed to be. In Psalm 73, Asaph gets gut honest with God. It sounds like some of my discussions with God:
I know God is good, but I've lost my foothold.
I'm tumbled in the waves of doubt.
I don't even know what's real anymore. I just hurt.
And when I try to talk to God, it doesn't seem like he's even there.
All I hear is silence. It doesn't make sense to me:
the prideful, selfish people I know seem to be living the dream.
And me? I'm trying to follow God, and my life is so hard.
Why would God do this to me? It makes me angry.
Kind of bitter, actually. I feel confused.
But, God, I know you are real, and that you never change.
You're always with me…even now when it doesn't make sense.
When we suffer heartache, our first reaction is often, "This isn't fair!" Depending on the cause, we may be exactly right. In Psalm 73, Asaph looked around and saw that wicked people were happy and successful, but he endured hardship even though he tried his best to follow God. He accused God of not caring, but eventually, God opened Asaph's eyes to the reality of God's justice: Even though life isn't fair, God is sovereign, and he is working for my good.
Why do bad things happen to us? This was Asaph's question; maybe it's yours. When we're hurt, we often try to find the cause. Stop and think. What might have caused your brokenness?
• Our own sins and foolish decisions. Because of the fall, we make foolish, self-destructive, and selfish choices that cause us and God heartache. Like Adam, we pass blame to others ("She made me do it") or to God ("You gave her to me. It’s your fault!").
• Other people's sins that wound us. Adam and Eve's family experienced sibling rivalry that ended in murder. Not a great beginning! Many of us have suffered verbal, physical or sexual abuse. We feel furious and lonely, afraid and desperately needy. And rightly so.
• Spiritual conflict. The enemy of our souls uses temptation, accusation, and deception to get us off God's path and cause us to doubt God's purposes for us. In most cases, the battle is waged in our minds, where truth is our most potent weapon.
• God's discipline. Some of the pain we experience is God's way of getting our attention to correct our waywardness, just like a loving father disciplines his children—for our good.
• This fallen world. One natural disaster can wreck a life...and a family. This can include environmental disasters (like a hurricane) or personal disasters (like health problems).
We may not have an answer to the question of "why?" in this life. But in Isaiah 45:6-7, God makes it clear who's in charge: "I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things."
Make it Real
Brokenness cries out for healing. Instead of self-medicating our pain, we need to allow God to carry us through it. Maybe you're hurting right now because of a foolish choice you made. Or because of the evil someone else did to you. Maybe there's not any simple explanation, except that we live in a fallen, broken, messed up world.
Regardless of the "why," hear this: God wants to reveal himself to you in a new way. If you’ve sinned, God wants to forgive you and give you a fresh start. If you've been wronged by someone else, he wants to hold you and cry with you in your pain. If your heart is screaming "why?" about a great loss, God wants to tell you, "I know this hurts, but I’ve got you. I love you. I’m not leaving and we will get through this…together."
In what area of your life is it most difficult to trust God and rest in him? Why?
Can you identify any of the causes in the hardships you've experienced in the last few years?
How has God revealed himself to you through hardship?
Take a moment to read each one of these verses and think about how they apply to your life. Wherever you can do it, insert your name in the verses. Pray these passages over your heart.
• "My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:2).
• "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine" (Isaiah 43:2).
Heart to Heart
Okay, so I can be a bit emotional sometimes. (Just ask Tim). Every woman has her bad days…and PMS doesn't help. Even when we know truths about God—that he’s loving, good, and faithful—we just want to make sense out of all the confusion. And right now! When we aren't facing big life trials, there are many daily frustrations that send us into an emotional tailspin.
It's important and healthy for us to realize that we can't and shouldn't measure God's goodness by our current emotional state. If your life feels out of control, remember that God is in control. Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart." It means to be bold. Confident. Secure. To rest in him. How can you rest in the Lord today?
God, the waves are relentless. My strength is gone and I feel like I am drowning. Rescue me and give me strength to hold to everything I know about you…even when I can't see you…