“I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.
For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.
Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.
O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.
But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.
And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”
-Psalm 9:1-10 (KJV)
I read this one way in advance this week. It is amazing how God always provides just what we need, even if it is a reminder that no matter what is going on that we still have reason to praise Him.
David declares right away that he will praise God. ‘Yehovah’- the Existing One. Every part of him will praise God. And David doesn’t just want something on the surface, he desires that his praises will be part of his testimony- that it would flow throughout him into the world. He knows that his faith and belief in God is worth sharing and should be something that is evident to people who meet him or hear of him. This second verse really helped me this past week. So many things were getting me down, and I really felt trapped in this terrible cycle of self-hate and unworthiness to be around people- I really didn’t think I could get out of that place of misery, and I warred with myself over this because I knew that I should be praising God and not staying miserable. It took a lot of prayer and focus on God for me to reach the place that David is at in verse two when he says, “I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.” (emphasis added) I have had moments when I was about to lose a friendship that was clearly given by God and decided very quickly that the enemy wasn’t going to win it away from me- that was easier then the struggle of deciding I was worth it on my own.
It was for something silly enough that I don’t remember- it was a disagreement or perhaps a decision to take offense at something not intended as offensive… And it was with a very dear friend with whom any conversation I have ever had, and continue to have with them to this day, had always kept my focus on God and strengthened my faith. And then something happened…and it took me less then 24 hours to realize that the enemy was trying to wreck what we had because it was so strong, and I told my friend that wasn’t going to happen and that I wanted to apologize. It didn’t take me long, because I love my friend and I could see how God was using that relationship for good. But when this week hit me hard, and I started excusing my self-hate as something that kept me humble and meek, and every action I took to not be in fellowship so I could continue on the downward slope I was on….I could not get to the place where I thought I was worth anyone’s time so as to be lifted up by them. I was too much of a burden. Too much baggage. No one could handle everything that I was experiencing. I started believing all these lies. Lies that came from my past, and some new ones. I fought it. I did. I asked what God wanted me to learn right now through all this. I tried to spend my alone time thinking I wasn’t starving my love language by not being in fellowship, but drawing nearer to God. (I wasn’t. I was beating myself up.) I really worked hard for a whole week trying to put my focus on the cross. There were some things that happened during the week that brought me happiness, but they were temporary. I was looking for some compassion, someone to be a ‘crutch’ that I could cry to and they just check on my every hour to see if I’m doing better (By the way, this does not help the healing process in the slightest, and I was disgusted with myself when I recognized I was doing this.). I was determined that my eternal happiness really needed to come from the cross. And this is true! But it doesn’t need to happen alone. It took me a week…to get to the place where I suddenly remembered ‘everything happens for a reason’ and knew that all that I was going through had a purpose. And I agreed to breakfast with my good friend who was worried, and had done everything right and tried to help, and maybe could tell I just needed to talk. They pointed out that I had lots to be happy about from some things that had happened during the week, and I explained that I felt like God wanted me to know for certain that my happiness was really secured in Christ’s death on the cross, and all those things that bring joy during the week are reasons to praise Him. I hadn’t done that. There was no song in my heart, I wasn’t hoping in the cross, I was hoping in any person to just pity me. It took a week to get to the place where I determined I will be joyful, I will praise God, I will look up. Happiness is as much a decision you make each day as being stuck in a broken place. Choose to get up and go. (John 14:31)
The wicked shall fall by the judgement of God. We often skip over the bad, thinking that only the positive bits of scripture really apply to us. But had I not realized the sin going on in my life, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to where I did at the end of the week. Self-hate shouldn’t fuel anything that I keep in my life. It shouldn’t even be there. And I shouldn’t see myself as so worthless that I don’t ask friends for a little quality time in fellowship when I feel down. Isaiah 45:9 “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” The enemy found that weakness in my armor where I wasn’t seeking my worth from God. And he found it in a ridiculous way- some guys had walked up to me and started hitting on me, but I was to ignorant to recognize this! I thought we were talking about faith! The next thing I knew, one of them was asking after me…I wasn’t even flattered. I just felt stupid, and I felt like, in my ignorance, I had led them on and sinned in this. And I let it get me down. I wasn’t sure enough in my own actions, so I didn’t think that God had allowed that conversation to happen, which led me to experience all these new things. I continued to be unable to get the message to this guy that I wasn’t interested and it only fueled the enemy. But you know what? The enemy can only destroy the material things of this world- he can’t take away our salvation! God has the final say. My heart was so guarded in that conversation, looking back at it now, I know I wasn’t at fault for anything I said, but it was something they were drawn to about me. After sitting down to talk with them, I can say that it’s a good quality (not physical) that led to a discussion about faith (he is not a Christ follower), and that he is just the type to think about the future where I do not do such things.
It doesn’t mean there aren’t things I don’t need to address. One of the best things one of my friends said to me while I was struggling was “you are free in Christ”. It was immediately liberating. Because that I am sure of. David says in verse 9 “The Lord will also be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” Then I felt like I lived in the next verse. I know that I am free in Christ, I know that how I was treating myself and excusing negative traits was bad and I needed to escape that, and I know that I can always run to God. Just a few words of truth spoken by a friend put me over the edge into trusting God and pulled me from that negative cycle so that healing could begin. In my days being a mentor, I have witnessed that even if someone is seeking help with something, it is really up to them when that healing starts. You have to let go of those chains. It’s not instant, it takes time. Change will come. Focus on God and let him direct your paths.