There are times when reading through the Psalms brings comfort to my heart – with good reason:
“I called on the Lord in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” 117:5-6
“For You have been a shelter for me, and strong tower from the enemy.” 61:3
“I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore, I will call upon Him as long as I live.”
The word of God is filled with wonderful promises. There is a confidence we have in knowing that as a child of God we can claim these promises and we should not feel guilty for doing so when we are in need. Here are a few more:
“Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation, no evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” 91:9-11
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.” 34:19
On the other hand, there are times when I am challenged and a gentle conviction fills my heart, giving me reason to ponder the words on the page:
“With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes…I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statues; I will not forget Your word. 119:10-12, 15-16
“You are my portion, O LORD; I have said that I would keep Your words. I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; be merciful to me according to Your testimonies. I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments.” 119:57-60
Can I speak these words in confidence? Would they be true? The fact is, at times they do not reflect the current condition of my heart. I know the commandments of God; I know what he would have me do to remain pure and holy in an unholy world. Nevertheless, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. It’s not the “big” sin that creeps in, it’s the “little” sin – every day things, like covetousness, jealousies, etc.
The instruction is far easier than the application and in this; I find grace – and answers to what I sometimes perceive as contradictory passages of Scripture.
Why does Psalm 91 tell us that nothing will harm us if we make God our refuge, and back in Psalm 35, we are told that the afflictions of the righteous will be many – what gives! (Am I alone?)
One thing I know for sure, it’s not the Scripture that has issues, it’s me. Then I realize that both are true and completely dependent upon obedience.
When I consider my many afflictions, I must be honest and admit that they are due to my choices, specifically those made outside of God’s will. There is also the domino effect when what comes my way is the direct result of someone else’s disobedience. It gets complicated at times, at least in my mind it does. But God, who is rich in grace, reaches out to protect, deliver, and restore us every time. As a result, we learn that the thing He does allow has its perfect work.
This brings me back to the gentle conviction that fills my heart . If I cannot say to my Lord, “I did not delay to keep Your commandments”, then I will pray, “Lord open the eyes of my heart. Let me see the beauty in obedience so that I will delight in Your commandments and not sin against You.”
It is at this point, comfort and peace are restored – and hopefully a faithful walk with God will follow.
“Open the eyes of my Heart, Lord; I want to see you… I want to see you.”
(C) Teresa Ortiz