God’s Word was written to reveal Himself to, and for the benefit of, all mankind. He had men, women, and children in mind from every period in history, every station, and every nation when He crafted His master words. That’s a lot of folks. And you can feel a little lost in the crowd, no?
But you’re not lost in the crowd. He’s got you in His sights.
God is like that. Gargantuan galaxies. One celled amoebas. All under His scrutiny and care. A world of people. One child. All enveloped in the palm of His hand.
This is good news for you and me. We are not like the hundreds of nameless, faceless little cartoon people walking the paths of Zoo Tycoon. And God doesn’t treat us that way, either. He pulls us up and out of the crowd, sits us down in a quiet chair with our broken heart and our Kleenex box, and He talks to us. And listens. But only if we invite Him to do so. Oh – and there is one other thing we have to do to experience His reality.
I’ve found that when I am in a bad place, emotionally, and I just want to curl up into a ball and, well, bawl…I am not so interested in opening up God’s Word. I struggle with doubt. What good will it do anyway? What if I am disappointed, and God doesn’t meet me? I couldn’t bear that rejection right now. Better to ignore Him and avoid the crushing pain of being ignored by Him.
But you know what? Most of the time I push past the lies, and I open it up anyway. In that moment I am choosing to believe. To exercise faith that He will meet me there. That He has a personal word for me. I usually open up to the Psalms when I am hurting because they are written by hurting people, for hurting people.
When I was a little girl, God gave Psalm 71 to me. I believed He wanted me to take it for my own. My personal Psalm from God to me. How do I know this? I believe it. I believed it then, and through the years I have gone on believing it. Can I prove this kind of thing? Not really. But God has proved it to me over and over and over again. You can’t make me not believe it at this point in my life. It’s part of the fabric of who I am.
So I’m going to take Psalm 71 and read it the way I read it for me, so you can see how you can do this for yourself. (And I am fully aware that many of you already do this, but this is for those who don’t know what I’m talking about.) My thoughts (prayers, really) are in red.
In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!
Thank you that I can hide in You. I am small and vulnerable, but You are HUGE and HOLY. There are people who want to heap shame and blame on me. I feel scared and full of sadness. I feel unloved. But You love me. You will hide me from them. If You are for me, who can be against me?
2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!
The ones who gnash their teeth at me are just human beings, like me. But You are righteous, and yet You stoop to deliver and rescue me. You hear me. You will save me. I am safe in Your care. Oh, thank you, my Father!
3 Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
You are a great big Rock, and I can always come to You. You will never reject me. It doesn’t matter what people say about me; You will never speak evil of me. In fact, in the heavenly places where epic, eternal battles are waged, You have given the command to save me! Why? Because YOU are my rock and my fortress. I put my hope in You. I put all my eggs in Your basket without shame. I belong 100% to You.
4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
Those who are unjust and cruel are those who believe lies, speak lies, live lies, and spread lies. They reach to pull me into their nets of deception, but You will rescue me from the emotional and spiritual traps they set for me. I do not need to be afraid because Your grasp is mightier than their grasp.
5 For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.
From my childhood, You have been my hope. My God. The One I have trusted and believed. I have leaned on You for direction, help, and wisdom. You saw me inside my mother and took hold of my life completely and forever. I will praise You for making me Yours. I belong to You, heart and soul, and if there is One I could praise continually, it must be You.
7 I have been as a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.
I’ve shared You with others, even as a child. You’ve used me in my smallness to strongly point to you and to be strong for others. But my secret strength is that I have none! YOU are my refuge! I am hidden in Your strength. Without You all around me, I am insignificant with nothing to offer. For this reason, my heart wells up with praise, and I am captured by Your glory all day.
9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.
10 For my enemies speak concerning me; those who watch for my life consult together
11 and say, “God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver him.”
I am getting older. I am tired of fighting. I have fallen in battle many times, and I am spent. I don’t want to stand up again. I want to be done. Please do not leave me now. I need You more than ever. I still have enemies. Different enemies, yet they are from the same Enemy. They observe my fallen state and plot behind my back. They tell others that You have forsaken me. They believe they have free reign to pursue and seize my reputation and my heart and pull me down into the pit. They believe You will not deliver me.
12 O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!
13 May my accusers be put to shame and consumed; with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
who seek my hurt.
You are right here with me. You are close. Right in my face. I feel Your breath. You will help me, and You will not delay a moment longer than necessary. May lies that are breathed against me be exposed and those that spread them be filled with shame and overcome with the Light of Truth. Because I am Your child. I am beloved. I am safe.
14 But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
16 With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
Even though it seems dark and hopeless, I will hope in You – and praise You more and more as the years unfold, and I see more of Your help and faithfulness. I will go to my grave telling of Your righteous acts. I am a spec of dust on a planet, but You have covered me, hidden me, and protected me all these years. I have no idea how many times and in how many ways You have protected and saved me. I will go forward riding on Your mighty deeds, and I will remind others of Your righteousness. Because of Christ, righteousness is imputed to me. Amazing grace.
17 O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18 So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.
I acknowledge that is was You, all along, Who have taught me anything I know of life and love. I will continue to proclaim the truth of all You have done until I have passed it on to another generation. As long as I have You here with me, never forsaking me, I can do this. I can speak truth in Your power, though I have no power of my own.
19 Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?
20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.
21 You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.
Who else could I turn to? Humans are nothing compared to You. Although You have allowed me to face different kinds of heartache and disappointment, You have also brought me up and out of dark places. You will once again set my feet in a spacious place. When I am shamed, demeaned, and belittled by people, You set Your greatness upon me as I hide in You. Your comfort is all around me. I am safe.
22 I will also praise you with the harp, for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.
24 And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long, for they have been put to shame and disappointed who sought to do me hurt.
I will sing and make music to you in my heart and with my voice out loud—because You are faithful! I will sing Your praises and shout for joy with all my soul. I will use my tongue and my pen to talk and write of your righteous help all the days of my life. I will never forget how You are a God of justice, putting to shame and disappointing all those who seek to hurt me. Praise the Name of God.
Once I am done with that, I am in a totally different place. I have exchanged the despairing lies of the enemy with the hopeful Truth of God.
[reminder preface=”How about you?”] Have you ever read the Bible this way? What kind of difference has it made in your life? [/reminder]