All of us have had a not so good day, probably more of them than we care to admit because that just wouldn’t be very mature-Christian like. Only feeble Christians have not so good days. Well, we can agree with that statement if we think Paul or Peter or King David or a host of other biblical heroes/heroins were feeble because they each experienced not so good days. Check out Romans 7, Acts 10 or Galatians 2 and Psalm 55, just to get started.
The mighty men and women of the Bible had not so good days! What I want to know is what did they do about them? How did they respond to them? And what did God do with their not so good days? I’m so glad God’s letter to us is not a fairytale filled with pie in the sky fancies and ideologies, but rather, it is a book filled with real down in the trenches life stories of faith in the evidence of things not seen! Stories of God showing himself to be God in every aspect of life, the good…the bad…and the ugly.
Sometimes, though, when I read about Daniel and David or Ruth and Mary, it’s hard for me to believe God will ever use me like that because they seem so…so holier and more spiritual than me. In my head I know they weren’t perfect. I know they had bad days, but I just can’t get it into my heart that they were people just like me. (See James 5:17)
So, God in his providence also included the “little people” in His story. People like Jabez who only have a few verses of their story written, but shout volumes of truth through time. (I Chronicles 4:10) And then there are those who are even anonymous. I have no idea why God did not reveal some of the writers He penned His word through or reveal the names of some through which He teaches us. But maybe it was so we could put ourselves into their story and say “Hey, that’s me! That’s exactly how I feel.”
One such story that has challenged me is from Psalm 102, a passage that was obscure and unknown to me until just recently. But now it speaks sharply, yet mercifully, into my soul because I’ve had more than a few not so good days lately. Isn’t God’s Word great that way! I just never know when something I read will be used of God to do a little surgery and a little healing. The key is, I must read His letter!
If you would like to keep reading, I am just going to quote some of Psalm 102 (KJV) and share what God has taught me and how He has helped through this Psalm. I pray they may be helpful to you. I encourage you to read the entire Psalm 102 and allow Jehovah God to move and work in you.
[A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD.]
This is the inscription of Psalm 102. It tells us that this anonymous person is having a not so good day, to say the least. It also tells us that this person told God all about it. Read on…
Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee. Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.
This prayer isn’t a “Jesus bless me…” generic, run of the mill, prayer. It is a bold, deep and impassioned prayer to Jehovah God, the existing One. And it isn’t flowery or sophisticated. The word “cry” here is shavah in Hebrew and it is a feminine noun meaning “cry for help.” I don’t know about you, girls, but if I am in real trouble, like going to get mugged trouble, and I cry for help; it isn’t going to be a little wheezily whimper. It’s going to be a from the gut shrill in capital letters…”HELP!” And in that situation I would like my capital letter “HELP!” to come sooner than later, wouldn’t you? So would this Psalmist. Whatever was causing this prayer to come from his lips and pen, he needed an immediate response.
It is important to wait on God for answers to prayer, but this prayer asked for a speedy answer. The one asking is not rebuked for asking for a quick response. I think that is important. I don’t see this as a contradiction on how we should pray; patiently or seeking immediate answers. I think it speaks of wisdom to know when to do each.
For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth. My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin. (v. 3-5)
It’s hard for me to fathom opinions stating the Bible is not applicable or more specifically that the Old Testament is not relevant for today. How much more relevant can you get than verses 3-5 above? I know I am not the only one that has felt this way. If you’ve ever experienced the death of a loved one or lost your house to a fire or natural disaster or lived with cancer…you’ve felt this way. Often we can’t explain it to others. We can’t even explain it to ourselves. We can’t put words to how we feel–to what our body feels.
I am so glad I don’t have to try to come up with the explanation anymore. God has given me the words right here through this anonymous life story.
This Psalmist was alone. And if you’ve ever felt abandoned or alone, even in a crowd, you have felt this way. I hate feeling lonely. I’ve decide it is the worst of all emotions. I can deal with just about any other emotion; fear, envy and even hate as long as I don’t have to face those things alone. But if I do have to face them alone, it is all ten times worse to deal with.
It is important to distinguish between loneliness and solitude. My odd temperament actually needs to have periods of solitude. A time to just be by myself, with God and rock in His embrace. I should remain in this state of solitude as long as God needs. These times strengthen and balance me.
But I do not need nor do I crave loneliness. Times of loneliness drain me and catapult me deep into a bottomless pit. God is always there during these times trying to hold me and cradle me, but for some insane reason I kick and scream at Him to keep His distance. I need to remove myself from these bouts as quickly as possible. This Psalmist shows me the best way to do that. Admit that I am in that pit of loneliness, cry out with capital letters for “HELP!” and keep on my knees before Jehovah God. Oh and stop kicking at the Holy One! Not real smart!
Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me. For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down. My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass. (v.9-11)
Whoa! Did this guy just tell God that He was responsible for the desperate state taking place? Of course, we mature and spiritual modern day Christians would never do that. Then we are never honest. I know I am not alone here: asking God why He has placed me in this situation or that, asking why He hasn’t taken away my depressive thinking, asking why He hasn’t struck down my enemies. I wonder, “God what are You doing?”
This is a major not so good day and the writer is laying it all out. All the hurt, all the confusion and even all his doubt is laid bare before His Jehovah God. And he is not rebuked for doing so. And the reason I think he is not rebuked is he’s not trying to sound pious or even hint that he can help God solve his problem. He sees himself as a mere shadow or as whithered grass. He is nothing without God.
I wonder what or who His enemies were? If this was a man seeking God, as I believe he was, his first and foremost enemy would be Satan himself. Ultimately, the god of this world is our primary foe and he has no scruples as to what lesser enemies he throws our way. His hope is that we stay like withered grass, but God’s purpose is that we cast it all at His feet. Read on…
“But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations. Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.” (v. 12-16)
This anonymous writer knew his life was in the hands of the Almighty and he reminded himself of that after he laid out all his shadowy pain and withering grass thinking. In mercy God brought him out of the place of consuming fire and groaning bones and placed him in the light of His own glory! Jehovah showed him that He is building Zion one anonymous person at a time(but never anonymous to God!) so that all the earth and all the kings see His eternal glory!
And Praise be to the Only True God…
“He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.” (v. 17-18)
Thank you anonymous Psalm writer for reminding me that the only life worth living…the only true legacy is the one that comes in honest faith before the existing One!