Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
What can man do to me? Well, in two words: a lot. Especially when that “man” is yourself. I’ve despised myself so many times. I’ve beaten myself up for the tiniest mistakes. I’ve thrown up false humility in the presence of the Lord just to seem like a “good Christian”. I’ve hated God in my heart because I didn’t get my way. I’ve thrown tantrums of fury over pure folly. And, perhaps the biggest sin of all, at least in my own heart: I’ve hated myself.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
But having a broken spirit sucks. What if depression, and scars from the past, and broken promises, and failed outcomes have you thinking that there is surely no one more broken in this world than you? What a horrible feeling to strive and strive and fail and then hate yourself for it. What a horrible feeling to hate your past and your mistakes and your brokenness.
But if I believe the Bible, and I do, then God actually likes my broken spirit. My broken and contrite spirit means I’m ready to repent. I’m ready to admit that I don’t know near what I think I do, especially in regard to God’s plan for me. God’s intimate knowledge of me is far better suited to make proclomations about my character than I am. I’m not getting anything passed God. He KNOWS me. He made me. He knows my heart and my mind. He knows everything. I can’t fool Him or trick Him.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
And even knowing every part of me, He chose to die for me, to give me life, and to make me His! KNOWING everything about me, what I would do with my life, how I would fail, how I would succeed, how I would struggle, He still chose me. His response to knowing everything? He says triumphantly, “Daisy, YOU ARE WORTH IT! I LOVE YOU. YOU ARE MINE!” We all are, when we have submitted to Him.
I guess that’s real love, isn’t it? We always want to have someone love us unconditionally, and that is exactly what God has given us. He loves us without restriction. Without remorse. And He’d do it all over again.
That brings me back to my self loathing and depression. What am I supposed to do with these feelings when I can’t love or forgive myself? I am weary. I am exhausted from the thought of one more step. I have been driven hard by my own expectations. I’ve suffered and strained under the burden of life’s challenges, most of which I never had any control over in the first place.
And yet, through my struggles, through my fear, through my self described failure, the Lord responds with victory. Which is more real? Which is more true? My feelings of failure, or His proclomation of victory? Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the Lord helped me.
Yes, I’ve been pushed hard. Yes, I’ve been falling and holding on by the smallest thread of hope, and my fingers quickly began to slip from even that tiny shred of faith. How do I go forward? How do I hold on? It is impossible for me. Hopeless for me. But not for God. Nothing is impossible for God. Nothing is hopeless with God. Nothing. Not even me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
15 Glad songs of salvation
are in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,
16 the right hand of the Lord exalts,
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!”
The Lord deals with me valiantly. Valiantly! I’ve maintained the weakest grasp of that wisp of hope because the Lord has been my strength. And He is infinitely strong. I can look back now and see the millions of times that His strength brought me through trial. His strength, His faith, His love, His salvation. They saved me. They save me still.
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
18 The Lord has disciplined me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
I can proclaim the Lord’s goodness. I can proclaim that He has treated me valiantly! He has given me victory. Though I have been disciplined, though I have felt the pain of unrepentant sin, He has brought me through it. He has created in me a clean heart. He has urged me lovingly, patiently, toward repentance and communion with Him without shame or fear.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
His discipline restores me. It repairs my brokenness and brings me through to victory. Though it is painful, it is transforming. Though I suffer for a little while, I will have my reward, both now and in the age to come. Abundant life is mine to take.
Jesus is my righteousness. I am not hated for my sin. I am loved despite my sin. The gates of righteousness have been opened for me, because the Lord has opened them. He has become my salvation and I have no need to fear myself or my wickedness. I can proclaim His victory in me instead.
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
For more on trusting God and being thankful, you can check out my blog post here: On Being Thankful