Friday, May 12, 2017

Write yourself out of a funk

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 31:1-24

TO CHEW ON: "Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart
All you who hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:24

Do you notice how the writer's mood changes as we make our way through this psalm? David starts off in an emotional funk but ends in a much better place. Let's track his thoughts as he journeys from desperation to hope.

1. He cries for help (vs. 1-5):
From his bad place David cries to God "Deliver me...bow down Your ear...Deliver me speedily...Be my rock of refuge...Pull me out of the net...Into Your hand I commit my spirit."

2. He does some self-lecturing (even though, judging by what follows, his feelings aren't yet on-board) (vs. 6-8):
"I will be glad...You have considered my trouble...You have known my soul in adversities...(You) have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a wide place."

3. He lays it all out (vs. 9-13):
David speaks his feelings and fears:  
"I am in trouble...I am a reproach...I am repulsive...I am forgotten...I am like a broken vessel...They scheme to take away my life." 
Thankfully he doesn't stay there!

4. He declares his faith in God (vs. 14-15a):
"But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say 'You are my God'
My times are in Your hand..."
In other words, even considering the worst that people can do, David reminds himself that God, not his enemies, is ultimately in charge of his life.

5. He requests specific help (vs. 15b-18):
David puts into words exactly what he needs:
"Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me... Make Your face shine on me...Let the wicked be ashamed...Let the lying lips be put to silence."

6. Finally he offers praise to God, in faith that God has heard and will answer (vs.19-24):
"Oh how great is Your goodness...You shall hide them (those who fear You) in the secret place of Your presence...Blessed be the Lord...You heard the voice of my supplication when I cried out to You...Be of good courage ...All you who hope in the Lord."

My journal entries are sometimes a bit like this — a writing journey from trouble to trust. I find it helps to pour it all out on paper: the mixed-up feelings, the fears, the self-recrimination and revulsion. But it's important not to stay there but to move from a focus on self back to a focus on God.

If you're in trouble today, try writing your own version of Psalm 31. Just make sure you end up in the place David did — with your eyes on His face that shines on you.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for David's very real relationship with You, showing even his dark moments. I have them too. Help me to work my way out of them and back to You like he did. Amen.

MORE: Journaling resources

How to Keep a Spiritual Journal

Journaling: Being a Brave Soul (with more resources listed within the post and a link to more articles in Ann Voskamp's 2009 series about journaling).

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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