I have had difficult days when I've awakened from sleep with a great sense of futility. After struggling with the same old issues in my heart for so long, I've sometimes felt like there's no hope of change. Will I ever stop believing the lies I'm so prone to believing? Will I ever stop getting tripped up by the same vulnerabilities? It creates a horrible hopelessness. But amidst such days, I go through the motions anyway, and try to begin each day seeking God as I read the Bible.
And as I did that recently, I suddenly felt struck as I read the psalmist declare, "While I live I will praise the Lord" (Psalm 146:2).
It's such a simple statement, and I felt halted by it. I just stared at it, thinking of what it said. While I am alive – "while I have my being," he says – as long as I'm breathing, I'm going to praise the Lord. That's the psalmist's approach to life. Not hopelessness, but praise. Not a focus on self, but on Yahweh – the faithful, covenant-keeping God who draws near. In other words, why wake up with a complaint on my lips about my inadequacies when I can wake up praising the God who wants to be with me and help me every moment of my day?
The psalmist then writes, "Happy [or blessed] is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps truth forever, who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry, the Lord gives freedom to the prisoners" (vv.5-7). I can be happy because the God who helps all the people listed there also wants to help me! The one who "keeps truth forever" never changes, and he won't disappoint those who put their trust in him.
So why on earth would I ever struggle with a sense of futility when such a great God "who made heaven and earth" has offered to personally help me? Yes, imperfect me! And you!
No wonder the psalmist described people who have such a God as happy! The truth is, if God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31) And that is why it's better to begin my day praising the Lord rather than complaining about me.
© 2021 Ken Peters
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