Hitting the wall of Desperation (Finding Joy in the Midst of My Life)

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Psalm 107 describes 4 desperate groups of people.

  1. People wandering in the desert who are thirsting and hungering until their lives ebb away
  2. People in iron chains of bondage/labor because they rebelled against God and his counsel
  3. People who became fools and suffered affliction because of their sins
  4. People out on a fierce raging ocean, whose courage has melted away

In each situation, when “they cried out to the LORD in their trouble” “He delivered them from their distress” (vs. 6, 13, 19, 28).

  1. For the parched and hungry wanderers, God led them by a straight way; he satisfied their thirst and filled the hungry with good things (v. 7 & 9)
  2. For those in bondage, he brought them “out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains” (v. 14)
  3. For those who were foolish and suffered affliction because of their sin, “God sent forth his word and healed them; and rescued them from the grave” (v. 20)
  4. For those out on the sea, at their wit’s end, adrift on waves that seem to rise to the heavens and go down to the depths, whose courage had melted, “God stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed” (v. 29); God “guided them to their desired haven” (v. 30)

Have you ever found yourself in a desperate place?

I have. I remember the way it felt to be overweight. I weighed close to 200 pounds. I had an addiction to food. I overcame that addiction through prayer and by God’s help. At my weigh-ins, from 197 down, I wrote over the charted weight loss, the verse from Philippians 4:13, which declared my dependence upon God to help me get out of my desperate situation.

Years later, as I had gained some weight and tried to get it off again, I hit a wall. I couldn’t seem to get myself motivated enough to get back into the discipline I needed to get healthy again. Until I admitted my inability to do this on my own, and asked God for his help, I couldn’t seem to get myself motivated for the long haul and committed to the changes I needed to embrace.

I had maintained my weight loss for over a decade; I had slipped into an attitude that I could somehow do this on my own. I had grown proud and forgot that God had delivered me. I had forgotten to be thankful to God.

As I approached my need to lose weight, only when I admitted my powerlessness over it, and my need for God, did the answers start coming.

I think this is what the Psalmist is referring to here—the joy of dependence upon God, and our need to daily remember it’s not us who has gotten us out of the desperate situations. It is God. Thankfulness is the key to remembering what God has done in our lives and sustaining lifelong changes.

Today, take a long look at the pathway of victories behind you. Remember all the ways God has been faithful to you. Remember his love endures forever and is great (vs. 1-2, vs. 43). Give thanks with joyful songs (v. 22).

Are you facing another desperate situation? He will make a way. He is the same God. But first, you and I must humbly come to the end of ourselves and cry out to God for help.

Prayer: God, I know. I know your ways are mysterious. I confess my pride before you, and lay my life bare before your holy gaze. I lay down my defenses. And I humble myself. I turn from my self-interest, my thinking I can devise my way through. And I turn my empty hands toward you. You are my redeemer. God, help me. Thank you for your enduring and great love for me, and for never giving up on me. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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Fighting for Joy (Finding Joy in the Midst of my Life)

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Day 11

Psalm 96

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all the peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the people’s with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the people in his truth.

If only we could see God as he is. If we could get a glimpse of his glory… the joy of his countenance, the radiance of his personage…it would make a difference. But we can’t see God.

Honestly, at times, Christians even get depressed. The Psalmist is an example. He encountered a lot of ups and downs in life. Certainly, God knows our human state. He understands every turn of events that creates hurt in our hearts. He knows us. We don’t have to hide our emotions from our all-knowing God. What good does that do?

We read a Psalm like this on joy, and it makes our heart yearn for God. It makes us desire his presence. His love, and the radiance of God’s face to shine upon us…

I wish some days I could just climb up in his lap like a child and rest there in his arms. Maybe down here, even the best of days, pale compared to the way it will be in heaven. Maybe, we feel depressed sometimes because deep in our hearts, we know nothing in this world can ever satisfy.

And that hurt in our hearts, points us to Father God, our Father who sees us as his children. He sees when our toys break. He understands our hearts when our piggy banks break. He knows how we feel when the sky is cloudy, and the day is dark. He knows how it feels when our hearts break. He knows, and he cares.

Maybe what this Psalm is after is to challenge us… that Maybe the songs we have sung before our hearts were broken, were happy songs about circumstantial joy. Whereas now, now as we hold our broken toys, our broken dreams up to Father God, and cry, Daddy fix it…he cares, but the one thing he longs to fix most, is not so much our broken toys, or even our broken dreams, but our  hearts. I think He wants to re-purpose us so we are not fixated on the latest rage in toys, or even dreams. He wants our lives to reorient around the things that last forever, and to seek his kingdom and his righteousness first. And then, all will find perspective.

Today, let’s sing to the LORD a new song, adjusting the focus of our hearts to the things of heaven, not so much the things of earth.

Prayer: God you know us. You understand we are people with senses. We desire to hold our treasures in our hands. We want to store them up, so we can look at them, count them, feel the pride of ownership. You desire we store treasures up in heaven. We want to smell, feel, see, hear, taste – in order to know a thing is real. Whereas you want us to have faith, without having to smell, feel, see, hear, taste… God we need your help to wrap our minds around what it means to seek you first… and what true Christian joy is all about.

We need you to help us separate ourselves from the worldly treasures we have come to place such value upon that it depresses us when we can’t afford them, they break, wear out, or become obsolete.

Oh, God, show us there is hope for us. Help us reorient our hearts to seek you first. To truly desire you, above any earthly thing. For then, our joy can be boundless. In Jesus, Amen.