This psalm reminds us that sometimes our conversation with God is messy, and that’s okay. Though it makes sense to begin our prayers with thanks and praise and to end them similarly, there is no biblical mandate for such a structure. At times, we simply cry out to God from our place of pain, loneliness, and despair. We don’t come to a sense of resolution when we run out of words. We simply stop praying and wait upon God, whether we like it or not.
Psalm 119 pulls out all the stops in celebrating God’s truth. His Word not only guides our steps and keeps us from getting off course, but also, in a phrase, it gives us life. Why do we read, study, reflect upon, and pray the Scriptures? Because in them we find life, life with meaning and purpose, life with depth and truth, life both now and forever. The Word of God guides us so that we might live life to the fullest.
This type of functioning depression is real and is often hard to detect because it is hidden beneath the myriad of works and services that these leaders provide to their community. Everyone around sees the public success, while the leaders struggle with feelings of private failure. So how can we combat depression and restore our hope in God as leaders? We must build strategies that break this code of silence.
Though we are often inspired, formed, encouraged, and instructed in worship, God is the primary audience for our worship… Psalm 117 calls “all you nations” to “praise the LORD” and “extol him.” Worship is not just for Christians. It’s not just for Jews. All people are invited to join in. Our worship should never feel like some closed club. Rather, it should be something we make available to our neighbors as we welcome them into our worshiping communities.
Living intentionally in God’s presence isn’t just something we do during religious observances and in our private lives. Yes, we walk before God when we gather with others for worship, when we work for justice, when we spend times with our families and close friends. But, like the writer of Psalm 116, we have been saved by God so that we might live consciously in his presence and for his purposes every moment of every day.
Sometimes, if I’m going to be honest, there are times when I am eager for a bit of glory, times when I want to be recognized for my good work, times when I want someone to say to me, “Good job, Mark!” I don’t think this is altogether wrong. The problem is that I can easily fall into the trap of seeking my glory above all else. When this happens, my motivations are out of alignment, the longings of my heart are out of place. So, what helps to correct my course? What helps me to yearn for God’s glory most of all?
Too many leaders who are struggling in plain sight have never taken the time to assess their personal status. Some of our most powerful leaders delay this very important evaluation because they feel they don’t have the time, or that the movement or ministry will suffer. So they don their leadership hats, dig deeper, and neglect their personal health and wellness. Some even live in an Elijah-style time loop where they dwell in the depressed proverbial cave as they carry out great feats of miracles, signs, and wonders.
Do you ever feel spiritually dry? Does your soul ever seem to be hard as a rock? Do you ever worry about whether you will ever again be tender and open toward the Lord? … Most Christians do experience times in which our souls are so dry that they seem hard as a rock. We know we should spend devotional time with God, but the fact is we don’t want to… We still believe all the things we used to believe about God. But our desire for him has disappeared, and we’re left with stony souls.
As God is prone to do, God was teaching me something in the midst of an ordinary, human moment… When we grieve the news of war and famine, of families being torn apart, of people losing their lives, of injustice, poverty, sickness, and death, God grieves with us. God enters into the weight of darkness with us. God does not shy away, or point a finger, or scold, or blame. God comes near to us, presses in with us, bears the weight of sadness with us. Thanks be to God.
God’s gracious condescension is celebrated in Psalm 113. The Lord who is enthroned on high nevertheless stoops to look down upon us. Yet he is not, as the pop song proclaims, just “watching us from a distance.” Rather God “stoops down” to be near us (113:6). He “raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (113:7). What an amazing picture of God’s condescension!