This morning as I drove my son to school I was once again amazed by the beauty of the Ozarks in the fall. The air was a crisp 46 degrees. The leaves are just beginning to turn the trees into a mix of fiery reds and oranges. The sun was shining and the sky was a cheery shade of blue painted with big fluffy white clouds. I love mornings like that! I love it when my day starts with joy in my heart and gratefulness on my mind.
The problem is that joy isn’t always the song my heart sings throughout the day. I find it easy to get discouraged and dragged down by the circumstances and cares in life, and sometimes I just wake up feeling low for no apparent reason at all.
You might be thinking: Wow! That is super depressing. Why are you telling us this?
Because today I’m so grateful for chapters in the Bible like Psalm 31. Because it doesn’t matter what “mood” I wake up in, or end up in at the end of the day. I have an anchor in God’s Word that keeps me from swinging wildly from emotion to emotion each passing day.
In Psalm 31 David was definitely in a “mood.” He describes how he feels and what he is experiencing in verses 9-13.
He says he is in trouble. He is weak because of his sin and he has been grieving and crying over it. Even his neighbors are his enemy and his friends find him repulsive. People avoid him in the streets, but mostly they have just forgotten about him like he is a dead man. He feels broken, afraid, and hurt by people he once trusted.
He paints a pretty sad picture here. If you take the time to read these verses you can almost feel it can’t you? But if you skip ahead to verses 21-24 things have changed considerably! He is almost elated as he is praising God and counting the blessings he has in Him. What happened to get him from the lowest of lows to the highest place of worship?
He Brings His Troubles To God
David never pretended he didn’t have any problems. He doesn’t ignore the fact that he is suffering and slap a smile on his face. He recognized that He was in trouble (vs.9) and he laid out his troubles in great detail before God in prayer. We don’t have to pretend everything is OK when it’s not. Joy in the Lord isn’t ignoring how we feel or what is going on in our lives. It’s knowing who God is in the middle of it all. It’s having an anchor that keeps us grounded through the storms of life.
David shows us how we can do that in these three ways.
Meditate On God’s Character
Right after David poured his heart out in prayer, he began to meditate on who God says He is in His Word. In verses 14-20 he remembers his relationship with God, the promises of God, and the character of God. Here are some things on his list of remembrance:
You are my God (meditating on the personal relationship he has with God)
My times are in your hands (God is in control of his life)
Save me for Your mercies sake
God is good and has good things in store for us
God is our protector
He has marvelous kindness
He hears our voice when we are in trouble
Taking our focus off of our troubles and putting them on God’s character will set us up to endure our problems with the strength we need to honor God through them. We can do this by paying attention to our thought patterns throughout the day today. Are we constantly thinking of hopeless or untruthful thoughts about our situation or are we choosing to direct our thoughts towards the faithfulness, kindness, and mercy of God?
Anchor Emotions In The Truth
Once he begins to think about God’s character and the relationship he has with a good, merciful, and kind God, he begins to lift his countenance up. He anchors his ever-changing emotions to a God who never changes. This isn’t a “how to be happy” strategy because we might apply this Biblical strategy and still feel the same troubling emotions. Rather this approach gives us perspective and strength to endure our struggles with a deeper abiding joy in our hearts. It allows us to avoid getting swept up in the exhausting rollercoaster that our moods and emotions seek to create.
He Calls Others To Worship With Him
Finally, David rejoices in God’s goodness and kindness to the point where he can’t keep it to himself any longer. This worshipful perspective has now propelled him into a plea for us to worship God along with him (verses 23-24). This strategy isn’t just for our good, but for the good of others around us. If we allow ourselves to stay wrapped up in our moods and emotions we most likely will not be calling on those around us to see the goodness and kindness of God either. In fact we may be tempted to interact with others in a way that brings them down with us.
When we are troubled, we can take our honest and raw emotions before a God who hears us when we call. Then as we pray and meditate on who God is, on all of His rich promises towards us, and His unchanging character we will find the strength to endure. Finally, we can worship God and call on those around us to do the same. Here in Psalm 31, we find a better way to handle our emotions by anchoring them in truth!