Monday afternoon. I’m sitting across the table from my brother enjoying Chick-fil-A’s finest: three chicken strips and a bowl of fruit. He slowly begins to tell me about the opportunity of moving 800 miles away to be a high school youth pastor in the flat plains of West Texas. With excitement plastered on my face, I eagerly fill the conversation with supportive questions to learn more about this incredible possibility. Little did I know, his moving date would actually be less than two months from that day.
As the weeks rolled by, the sting of his departure began to settle in. Loneliness, fear, and despair instantly overtook me as the realization hit: my lifelong best friend would no longer live in the same town. And in the blink of an eye, he was gone. Suddenly, so much was unknown. Comfort was absent, and the suffocating feeling of isolation settled in. I walked around in an emotional daze for weeks, constantly on the edge of tears. Despite many caring friends surrounding me, I felt entirely alone in a city 2000 miles from my California home. Isolated.
Many of us have received shocking news that flips everything in our known reality upside down. We feel isolated by circumstances but forget that our relationship with the Lord is not bound by or confined to any given circumstance. Today, in Psalm 34, we’ll see a convicting picture of continual joy in Christ that is based on the character of the Lord and is not contingent upon the current occasion.
Even When It’s Hard: I Sing to the Lord
David displays his undivided loyalty to God as he declares that he will praise Him no matter the situation or hardship. Lifting the Lord’s name high “at all times” means our worship is not conditional. No matter what may happen, we always have a reason to express praise back to God. He is our Creator. He is our Savior.
We’ve all seen that annoyed wife look at her husband and say through gritted teeth, “I really do love you, but I don’t exactly like you right now.” How is this possible? Love is so much more than a rush of euphoric passion. Real love is a commitment. Love can be accompanied by an emotion but is not dependent on one to exist. Emotions are a gift from the Lord to enhance experiences, but they cannot be relied on independently. How often do we let our emotions sit on the throne of our hearts and dictate selfish reactions and fleshly responses? Today, our culture preaches, “follow your heart.” Ladies, it’s time to throw our culture’s motto to the curb and reclaim truth! Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” As daughters of the King, we must put an end to our sole reliance upon feelings. Since we love the Lord, we must oust our emotions from the driver’s seat, and let the truth of His Word dictate our response.
We seem to have an issue with falling in love with the comfortable seasons of life where everything seems perfect. The moment our ideal situation or relationship changes, our faith in God is shaken since we placed our trust in the circumstance or relationship and not in the Lord over it. Just like the Israelites in the Old Testament, we are an adulterous people. We often commit idolatry by falling in love with God’s blessings rather than the perfect Giver of those blessings.
Joshua 21:45 says, “Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” Even in the Israelites’ many failures and shortcomings, God fulfilled His commitment to His people. We worship the same God of the Israelites—the same, consistent God. We must renew our minds as Romans 12:2 states, resetting our minds on the truth of His character. We must reflect on His proven faithfulness to cultivate a heart of worship that is independent of our emotional condition, especially on the hard days.
Even When It’s Hard: I Seek the Lord
As we look further in the passage, David desperately cries out to God. God responds by giving David peace and removing all fear. In the depths of sorrow, God’s ear is attentive and His hands are active. Notice, David didn’t immediately run to the counsel of men. He turned his gaze first to the Lord. Verse 5 mentions that those who turn to God will have radiant faces. This idea ties back to the account of Moses in Exodus 34:29-34. Everyone knew Moses had spent time communing with God by the way his face shone from being in the presence of God’s glory. Can the same be said of us? When people encounter us, do they see radiant joy on our face and know we have spent time sitting at our Jesus’ feet?
I had never known such hysterical fits of grief and anguish until the first few times I drove past my brother’s former apartment after he moved. Left alone. This idea fueled the depths of my every fear and insecurity. I couldn’t change the circumstance. I couldn’t bring him back. BUT MY GOD. My God is always aware and always active. I needed only to pause and seek Him first through His Word and prayer. My comfort will never be found in my surroundings or circumstance, my comfort is found in the person of Christ.
Even When It’s Hard: I am Satisfied by the Lord
As seen in verse 8, David describes the rich satisfaction of seeking refuge in the Lord. We are satisfied by our experience of and dependency on God. Verses 9-10 reveal a promise of contentment and rest to those who fear the Lord. Animals may face need, but verse 10 says that “they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.” Hold the phone…what?! This completely contrasts our culture’s unending hunger for the “next best thing.” God gives satisfying joy. This world entices with temporary fulfillment, but the Lord satisfies with total contentment. Girls, do you realize the weight of this verse?! Our God meets every need—physical, spiritual, and even emotional.
We have all been created with a God-sized hole, designed to be filled by our Creator alone. I have to remind myself continually that my relationship with my brother (or any other man) will never satisfy me. It is easy to seek comfort and peace in human relationships, but we are designed to find them first in our Divine relationship. Hear me out ladies…I’m in no way bashing relationships or the body of Christ. Godly community is the sweetest gift! But, idolatry occurs the moment we believe the lie that anyone or anything other than God will satisfy our hearts. It is good and right to lean into the community God has intentionally provided but only after you lean into your personal relationship with your Savior first.
Father, strengthen me in my time of need. Let me remember who You are and that You are so much bigger than any hardship I face. Allow me to sing joyfully to you in worship as I reflect on the truth of Your character, especially on the hard days. Let my love for You be independent of my current emotional state. Please remind me to seek You first since I was created with a need that only You can fill. I long to taste true satisfaction in You.