“Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.
When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:
That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.
The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.
Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.”
Psalm 9: 11-20
What a great reminder! I know I started this blog as a way to really encourage myself to learn more hymns and sing them out-loud whether in public, at home, when happy, or when sad, and it has been working! These past few weeks my spirit has felt low, not really for any particular reason, I think it is just the stress of my upcoming trip in addition to my daily struggles on top of the things God is working on with me. I tend to snowball when just one thing upsets me, and I blame myself for any little thing that goes wrong and talk down about myself, and this all results in me seeking to destroy the friendships I have because I don’t feel worth it and I don’t want to bring others down so I decide being alone is for the best…but I’m always proven wrong. I struggled to keep a song on my lips this week, and just that one thing got to me (I’m going to be honest, it usually has to do with communication, as much as I try to be honest and very upfront, I’m not the most eloquent.) and I snowballed so quick. At the beginning of the year I wrote something to myself- “When I am tempted to think less of myself, I need to find my validation in the cross and not in others.” I’m quickly learning that, yes, God gave us friends, they are gifts! Not to be thought of as something we have worked hard to earn or anything we deserved by our own merit, but a really good friend who stands by you in your darkest hour is a real gift. (Much like the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross on the day of the crucifixion.) And friends can help us focus back on God when we have gotten off track, we don’t get to suddenly determine that the friends God has clearly given can’t handle the reasons He gave them to us. But God also calls us to look to him in our times of trouble. We need to be certain that our joy comes from the cross and doesn’t rely on day-to-day moments of joy. Blessings are great! They remind us that in small moments and big that God is God of all and He is watching out for us- but our greatest joy is know that what happened on the cross was the greatest act of love we could ever experience.
So here is David, praising God and encouraging others to do it too. Because he at least has this sense that praising God is the right thing to do. Not just sing, but share a testimony of His goodness for you specifically. It is nice to have some hymns memorized to praise God at any time, but what about the song God is writing for your own life? You may not feel like it is singable, but how has God shown His faithfulness to you in a way that you can share it with others? When I start snowballing, and I seek validation from others and I’m sure my testimony in those moments doesn’t look very good. David’s not saying to cry out for a pity party. But when you have gone through that long trial and you come out in the end having learned something new and you clearly see how God used what you went through to work for His plan in your life, then you share.
I was reading some books recently, and they were wonderful books, don’t get me wrong, I bought them because I wanted something they offered. But as I read them, I realized that we talk about brokenness like it is a final diagnoses. Sometimes labeling things is detrimental to spiritual growth and healing. And even though I know this, I still label myself with lies from my past. Reading those books, and studying their language, I realized that what I didn’t need was a book on how broken I am, but a book that taught about living like a new creation and leaving all that baggage behind. It’s not about living a good life through your broken past, but about leaving that stuff behind and declaring that your new beginning has nothing to do with those lies. And I got so frustrated at those books, determining that I didn’t need them…then a dear friend sent me ‘Gold by Moonlight’ by Amy Carmichael, and the letter they sent reminded me that maybe I am not reading those books for myself or being healed just for myself, but so God can use me in someone else’s pain to help them. My life is not for me as a new creation to determine what God can and can’t use in the song He is writing in my life.
I like observing certain wording choices of the Bible. We see in verse 12 that David says, “…he remembereth them: he forgetteth not…” A testament of God’s faithfulness. Though David had some really low points of desperation, he recalls how God lifted him up and he makes sure to include this in his testimony. So that he can praise and rejoice. We know, because we have the gospels, that often times what Jesus taught was difficult for people to swallow. But He didn’t sugar-coat the truth, and His lessons were powerful; simple enough for those who truly sought the Father, but confounding to those who just sought to gain for themselves. Don’t leave out that human struggle when you share your testimony. Let others see the healing that has taken place, don’t deny the struggle that God let you experience to bring you to the place you are now. Remember what it took for Jesus to die for your sins; He didn’t skip the cross, He lived His life intentionally for that purpose so we could look at His story and know that He understands our sufferings. David didn’t know all that we know now, but He knew He would praise God in the toughest of times, and share the troubles he went through that shaped his praise.
David remembers the bad with the good. The end of the wicked that God executed at his judgement was part of David’s testimony. He had witnessed time and again how God delivered him from those who sought to destroy him. He also recalls how in His time of need, God did not forget him and He uses it in verse 18 to bring hope to others. And David ends off this song calling out for deliverance. This weekend I really hit that point where I was so exhausted from the battle I was in I found myself praying for the second coming! Tired of fighting with myself, trying to remind myself of truths, feeling like I had failed to meet expectations… In a way, I felt like the beloved disciple, looking up at the One whom I had chosen to follow who now hung on a cross. Stuck facing the hard truth that it was my sin that stuck Him there and I was helpless to do anything. And I was still stuck struggling with the things He was dying to deliver me from. LITERALLY. It is nice to remember God’s love, especially around Easter when we tend to focus on that empty grave, but remember the pain that brought Jesus to the cross. Not just His pain of hanging there, but the pain that you feel when you are tempted to think less of yourself than what God created you to be. All that stuff was nailed to the cross, so leave it there. Don’t forget what put Him there, what He endured. Our joy is not determined by what people say around us, or the acts they do for us, but in the knowledge that Christ died for everything we suffer through so our freedom would be in Him and not in validation we receive from others that has a temporary effect.
When you know a friend who is struggling with something, be that friend who is there for them. Will to be awkward, sing to them, sing for them, help them praise God even thought it hurts sometimes. Pray with them and uplift them. I’ve learned through many things that I can not say I understand what some one else is going through, because everyone is different, but I can be there for them. But also be able to recognize when your friend is relying on you instead of on God and be willing to cut them off and direct them toward the cross. You are still helping them, let them know that, but let them know, too, that you cannot meet their expectations the way they want you to. (Trust me, you can’t. You can’t be a crutch or the solution to the pain they haven’t nailed to the cross.) I thought I had nailed all my baggage to the cross, but these past few weeks, God has been showing me that I am carrying some of it still. Songbird pointed out that my burden is heavy, “Alternatively, the yoke of Christ is easy though, and His burden is light. You shouldn’t have to bear both.” And Curly Joy came in to visit me and shared much encouragement and many hugs, and a song returned to my heart~ Don’t think you are meant to go through trials alone, just learn when you need to lean on God and when you need to let the friend’s He has given you use what He gave them to lift you up.
Be blessed, friends! Reflect back and write out a testimony from something new that has happened in your life. I’d love to hear about it if you feel led to share!