Psalm 94 and Having Anxiety

anxietyThe Psalms are so real when it comes to dealing with human emotion. Whether it was David who wrote one or someone else, the feelings in them are raw. There is no attempt to cover over what someone is feeling with pious platitudes. People are allowed to have the emotions they have and to express them. God is big enough to handle whatever we have at the moment. Psalm 94 is a great example of this:

Lord, avenging God—
    avenging God, show yourself!
Rise up, judge of the earth!
    Pay back the arrogant exactly what they deserve!
How long will the wicked—oh, Lord!—
    how long will the wicked win?
They spew arrogant words;
    all the evildoers are bragging.
They crush your own people, Lord!
    They abuse your very own possession.
They kill widows and immigrants;
    they murder orphans,
    saying all the while,
    “The Lord can’t see it;
        Jacob’s God doesn’t know
        what’s going on!”

You ignorant people better learn quickly.
    You fools—when will you get some sense?
The one who made the ear,
    can’t he hear?
The one who formed the eye,
    can’t he see?
10 The one who disciplines nations,
    can’t he punish?
The one who teaches humans,
    doesn’t he know?
11 The Lord does indeed know human thoughts,
    knows that they are nothing but a puff of air.

12 The people you discipline, Lord, are truly happy—
    the ones you teach from your Instruction—
13     giving them relief from troubling times
        until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 The Lord will not reject his people;
    he will not abandon his very own possession.
15 No, but justice will once again meet up with righteousness,
    and all whose heart is right will follow after.

16 Who will stand up for me against the wicked?
    Who will help me against evildoers?
17 If the Lord hadn’t helped me,
    I would live instantly in total silence.
18 Whenever I feel my foot slipping,
    your faithful love steadies me, Lord.
19 When my anxieties multiply,
    your comforting calms me down.

20 Can a wicked ruler be your ally;
    one who wreaks havoc by means of the law?
21 The wicked gang up against the lives of the righteous.
    They condemn innocent blood.
22 But the Lord is my fortress;
    my God is my rock of refuge.
23 He will repay them for their wickedness,
    completely destroy them because of their evil.
    Yes, the Lord our God will completely destroy them.

Here the psalmist knows that the Lord sees all and understands all. He (or she) knows that the Lord avenges the covenant people who are faithful and yet are still persecuted. He knows that the Lord’s discipline is for our benefit.

And yet he still has anxiety. He still feels his foot slipping in life. This is real life.

There are times in our lives when everything seems to go as wonderfully as if we could have planned it out. And there are times when it seems like nothing goes right–like we move from one tragedy to another and cannot see light at the end of the tunnel. Even in those instances God is still with us. Our challenge is to connect with the Lord even in the midst of trouble and be able to experience his comforting to calm us down.

This can be difficult, but if we pray regularly, pouring our hearts out to God, it is a beginning. Having a regular time of prayer each day is important. Establishing that routine helps us when life gets so tough that we do not feel like we have the time, desire, or inclination to pray because we have the habit of praying at the same time every day. Of course prayer at other times during the day is good, but have at least one time intentionally set aside for prayer. Talk to God. And leave some time to be still and quiet before God. Eventually you may begin to discern God’s responses to your prayers–through thoughts, feelings, desires that seem to come from nowhere, or an actual voice.

If you are a morning person, set aside time in the morning to pray. If you are a night owl, set aside some time at night. If your best time of the day when you are most alert is midday, set aside some time then to pray. Whatever your best time of day is, offer a portion of that to God in prayer. Then you will be able to pour out your feelings like the psalmists and still know the Lord will answer.

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