In my part of the country, hurricane season is just over a month away. It’s time to refresh my supplies and check my storm box to see what might be needed. It could be time to let go of the old-fashioned phone I used to plug into the wall jack to make phone calls when the power went out. Our home, like most people, has gone digital. It is undoubtedly time to check on our water bottle supply and see about canned goods.
While I ready myself for storms coming my way from the Gulf of Mexico, am I prepared for spiritual storms?
- Hurricanes of grief
- Tornadoes of loss
- Tropical storms of uncertainty
In the first half of Psalm 38, the psalmist provides a guide for repentance and lament. Soul tending, the necessary work of caring for spiritual health, requires regularly clearing out what has been done wrong and left undone.
Check out that post here if you haven’t read it yet.
The second half of Psalm 38 gives instructions for spiritual storm preparation.
Prepared to wait
15 But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. (Psalm 38:15 ESV)
Waiting can wear me out. Some of the most painful waiting in my life happened when I failed to prepare myself. Accepting the unplanned detour of unexpected waiting is hard.
The focus of my waiting will make all the difference. Am I focused on the one worth waiting for? In verse 15, the psalmist repeats the word you, and the word Lord as if he needs to be reminded of where he will choose to set his focus.
Is my waiting passive or active? Am I watching for hope? Am I choosing to remain aware of God’s provision for me in a season of waiting? Am I willing to place my confidence in the Lord? Can I proclaim, like the psalmist, “…O Lord my God, who will answer”?
Prepared for Pain
16 For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot slips!” 17 For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. (Psalm 38:16-17 ESV)
Waiting is not the only inevitable thing in our lives here on earth. Pain, falling, and failing are all part of my journey. My foot will slip, and there will be someone out there who may cheer. This is the reality of our broken and sinful world. Some celebrate when others suffer, and others boast when others fail.
Before I create too comfortable a distance from “those people,” I am reminded of my own failings in this way. Do I call it justice when the speeding driver gets a ticket? Someone buzzes by me going 90 on the freeway. Am I too quick to rejoice when I see that person “fall” into the hands of law enforcement? While it may be reasonable to be grateful for the efforts of law enforcement officers, I may have been a little too enthusiastic about seeing someone stopped and receiving a ticket.
The psalmist says, “…my pain is ever before me.” Somehow, I believe that now more than ever, most of us expect to live pain-free lives.
- Pain reminds me I am not home.
- Pain shows me my limits.
- Pain protects me from damaging my body by putting my hand in the fire or walking on a broken foot.
Prepared to Continue to Confess
I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. (Psalm 38:18 ESV)
This psalm began with confession and repentance, and this verse revisits this theme.
I love to check things off my list and finish projects. However, this side of heaven, confessing my sins, will never be complete. This is an ongoing practice required for healthy soul care. Sometimes, the weight of what I must confess and repent feels too much. The Bible encourages believers to confess their sins to one another. Just bringing my sins out into the light of day with another believer can bring peace and healing.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16 NIV)
Prepared to recognize my enemy
19 But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully. 20 Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good. (Psalm 38:19-20 ESV)
Why does it always surprise me if someone doesn’t like me? Believers are called to follow after good like the psalmist says. Following after good annoys those who don’t. Some people may not like me because I am not “their cup of tea”. However, the Holy Spirit in me may irritate and convict those in rebellion.
As one who claims Christ, I have an Enemy; therefore, I will have enemies. It is a painful truth.
This enemy of my soul will pit other humans against me, especially when I am busy with the kingdom’s work. He will cause these “foes” to multiply, gain strength and misunderstand me. This divide-and-conquer method works incredibly well and leads to discouragement.
Prepared to Pray & Surrender
21 Do not forsake me, O Lord! O my God, be not far from me! 22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation! (Psalm 38:21-22 ESV)
Waiting can be so isolating. The enemy of my soul would like me to keep my anguish to myself and grow weary of waiting on God’s perfect timing. It is easy to give up when I feel forsaken and far away from the Lord.
Division and isolation can give way to despair. These are the times I am called to ask for help from my brothers and sisters in Christ. It can be humbling but so needed.
Do not forsake me, O Lord! O my God, be not far from me! Help me to see and sense your presence today. Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation! I will choose to trust in your perfect timing for healing and help. In Jesus’ name, Amen.