The end of last week was a little rough for husband and me. Others far away at heart but close in reality took advantage of our time, our good faith efforts, and our trust. I’d like to walk away from them, but family ties prevent that at the moment.
While venting about their lack of consideration to my mentor, she kept repeating, “Give it up to God. When life seems out of your control, give it up, over and over, to God.”
Not the most comforting advice to hear when we live in a tangible world where people commit tangible actions that hurt us, disappoint us, and frustrate us.
“But, what more solid advice can I give in a situation like this but to advice you to give control to God?,” she later wrote me. “In Psalm 9, the writer starts with praising God and then continues praying about the problems he is having with his enemies. He does have ultimate control over your situations–I promise–and one day you will look back and say, “Ah, God, I get it. You’re awesome and I am very small in this story.”
In a culture that encourages us to puff ourselves up and make our image and our legacy an outsized extravaganza of ego, I am very small, and this is just a blip in God’s greater story.
It’s very comforting to remind myself of His sovereignty: it takes a lot of pressure off to do things right every time. His sovereignty eliminates our culture’s expectations that I should worry, or overcommunicate, or immediately correct every out-of-place detail. I shouldn’t, and don’t have to, do anything.
There’s a wonderfully thorough church website I found a few weeks ago when studying the Psalms. They provide some thoughts and questions for further discussion for the entire Bible!
Here’s a part of what they say about Psalm 9:
In Psalm 9, David gives us many reasons to praise God. We can praise Him because He “governs His people with justice” (v. 8), “is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (v. 9), and “does not ignore the cry of the afflicted” (v.12).
At times it may appear as though God is not all these things, but it is during those times when we must choose to believe and choose to praise God. Mentally circling around your problems, frantically trying to find a solution will not bring you one inch closer to the peace and joy you seek. Take a break from your mental wheel-spinning and praise God for a time. You will see your spirit lifted and the circumstances that at one point seemed so difficult and overwhelming will fall into their appropriate perspective as you worship the One who is in control of all.
“Take a break from your mental wheel-spinning and praise God, then see how you feel.” What excellent advice. I thought of Psalm 100, long one of my favorite parts of the Bible, recited it out loud, and yes, I felt better about almost everything going on right now. Especially because of the end:
For The Lord is good, and His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5
I love being reminded that God is faithful to us not only in our lifetime but through out our families’ lifetimes. He was faithful about planting the seeds that have grown into my family today and He will continue His good work in my future children. And other future relatives. In the end, loving and honoring family is really all that matters.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. Psalm 9:10
A really good article from Relevant magazine that talks about how the best way to stop feeling overwhelmed is to go home and love your spouse. When you stop and focus all (or most) of your attention on your spouse, they return the love tenfold and actually end up giving you more latitude to go outside the home and do what you need to do because they feel supremely secure in your love for them and support of them. I can see this with the hubs, and through this Psalm and this lesson of praising God always, I can see this with God.
The importance of giving praise lies not only in worshiping God, because He is mighty and compassionate, but also because we need to give praise and be grateful to function well. Isn’t that a fantastic thought? Taking the focus off of ourselves and practicing gratefulness for the gifts we have and the Father who leads us is as necessary as sleep and a healthy breakfast for feeling good. It costs us nothing, and in return, God reflects the adoration back at us and we feel more prepared to brave the world – and those who work against us.
My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before You. For You have upheld my right and my cause, sitting enthroned as the righteous judge. Psalm 9:3-4
We are working on this same concept of giving praise and being grateful in our marriage. When I notice Jason did a chore or task for me, I try to give him a “gold star,” or verbal praise for it. (He has requested this; I am not trying to patronize him!) When he notices something I have done for him, he expresses his thanks as well. We also cheat and point out when we have done something for the other, so we can kindly and not-so-subtly prompt them to be verbally grateful. The resulting hug or kiss feels no less good. 🙂
Maybe giving up and being thankful for it isn’t so bad.