Chronic fatigue and illness have permeated all aspects of my life. Physically I am less able, relationally I often feel less connected, and emotionally its sometimes hard to keep from being swallowed-up in it all. Discerning God’s truth and the enemy’s lies is an ever-present battle. The stanzas we’re studying today in Psalm 119 are timely in helping us keep our focus on the Lord.
Zayin & Heth (Psalm 119:49-64)
As I read through these verses I get a sense that the author is, once again, reminding himself of God’s truth and promises. When this Psalm was written, it is likely that the Mosiac Law, found in the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), was the only written Word of God. Also, it would not have been available for everyone to read. Rather, the Lord had ordained priests as teachers and intermediaries, sent prophets to correct and encourage His people, and appointed judges to guide and lead them. The author of Psalm 119, as well as the rest of the Israelites, would’ve known the histories of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, etc. Each of these histories are full of the Lord’s steadfast love and commitment to His people. It was these truths that the Psalmist had as an anchor to his faith.
While we also have these truths as a part of our anchor, it is just that – part of our anchor. We have what the Old Testament law couldn’t give: the restoration of all people to a right relationship with God. In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus we are given – through faith – the blessed assurance of eternal life now.
So, like the Psalmist, we can draw on a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 11) and rest in God’s promises. Whether it be the middle of another sleepless night (Psalm 119:55 & 62) or the depths of the long hours of the day, pondering on God’s previous provision helps us end the spin-cycle of negative thoughts. And, recounting His faithfulness to us – even in the smallest way – trains us to be more aware of His promised provision right now.
“I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them.” – Psalm 119:52 (NIV)
Lately I’ve been calling this process “armoring up.” Often the pervasiveness of chronic fatigue/illness leave me feeling very weak, if not outright vulnerable. For me, its then easy to seek seclusion and drift into mindless activities. Thankfully the Lord has been faithful in revealing just how unfulfilling they really are for me. More and more I find myself running to Him for comfort and strength – through prayer, reading the Bible, listening to Christian music, listening to podcasts of sermons or of speakers at Christian conferences, learning about other believers in their faith stories, etc.
Friends, God’s promises are for us, too! What is more, He wants us to pray them over ourselves, claiming them as our own. How do we find these promises to pray over ourselves? By reading the Bible – His promises are everywhere. Here are a few that especially comfort me:
- He hears my prayers (Psalm 138:3)
- All who seek, find (Luke 11:10)
- He knows my needs and will provide (Matthew 6:31-33)
- He protects me because I am His (1 John 5:18)
- I am His dwelling place; the Holy Spirit gives me strength to overcome (1 Corinthians 3:16)
- He promises me a life more precious than this earthly one (Philippians 3:20)
To the outside world, the Lord’s provision may not look bountiful, which can lead some to believe God doesn’t hear our prayers nor answer us when we seek Him. It could seem that He hasn’t protected me, after all, I’m chronically ill. Viewing God through that lens, though, always leaves us with blurry vision. Some have labeled this lens the “prosperity gospel.” It serves to trap and entangle us in lies about God and who we are in Him – avoid it!
We primarily see God’s provision in our inward change, not necessarily in outward circumstances.* When we align our hearts with His, we see His commands as life-giving rather than life-hindering. This is how the Psalmist found comfort and peace in God’s Word. He knew that obedience to God led to peace of mind and strength. We can know that, too. Let’s pray God’s promises back to Him, fully believing each promise as already being ours.
*God still works through miracles and healings today – sometimes God uses others to accomplish His miracles, sometimes its overtly God.