My mind is astir and won’t rest. Because I’ve pushed myself beyond my physical limitations for a few weeks, I’ve had more “crash” days than normal. The problem, though, is that I’m unable to rest peacefully. Perhaps I have Spring Fever and would rather be enjoying the turn in weather. More likely, though, is that I’m struggling with God’s command to rest. For whatever reason God has ordained my chronic fatigue/illness – you’d think I’d be good at resting by now; I’m not. In a lot of ways the words in these final two stanzas of Psalm 119 direct us to the Sabbath rest that only the Lord can provide. Let’s find out how.

Shin (v. 161-168)

This stanza gives us a blueprint for constructing a solid foundation amidst the shifting sands of endurance and perseverance. It opens with harassment (v. 161) and falsehood (v. 163). The Psalmist feels the intensity of persecution and sees truth being twisted, probably to justify his persecution. Yet, as much as opposition and oppression swarm this Psalmist, he indefatigably declares God’s word (v. 161, 162). I’m convinced that this Psalmist knows the great peace (v. 165) found in leaving one’s life in God’s hands, in being totally dependent on the Lord. This type of faith – faith that is cultivated in the midst of affliction – is faith that is built on solid ground. I’ve needed the Psalmist’s example and these truths lately. If you’ve had  a season of endurance or have faced chronic affliction, then I trust that you, too, have needed a steady hand of truth and comfort. The final verse of this stanza offers encouragement and motivation:

“I keep your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you.” -Psalm 119:168

We are encouraged because our God is a personal God, who, through Jesus, allows us into intimate relationship with Him; He wants us to cry out to Him in distress and to seek His comfort. This verse is equally motivating because God knows our every move, whether we confess it to Him or not. What’s beautiful about our relationship with God is that we don’t need to feel condemned by our actions or inactions – or by our abilities or inabilities. Remember, once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our sins are forgiven; our relationship with God is secure because of Jesus’ actions, not ours. That truth is the cornerstone to our foundation allowing us to endure and persevere through chronic affliction.

Taw (v. 169-176)

Whereas the previous stanza opened with thick oppression, this stanza begins by seeking wisdom from the Lord to face that opposition. But the Psalmist doesn’t reveal himself to have a heavy heart in the midst of this oppression. Rather he seeks wisdom and then chooses to praise God (v. 171, 175) and sing of His word (v. 172).

What a sobering example this Psalmist has provided. In the midst of my chronic fatigue/illness I have not always been a faithful servant of Christ. But, while my soul is craving Sabbath rest, I’ve come to see that praise and worship are crucial to peace and comfort. Even when life seems to be more about endurance and perseverance than joyful thanksgiving, the key to resting in God’s peace is forcing my lips to praise Him for His faithfulness and sing of His love. There is no better posture than a prayerful, worshipful one, firmly grounded in my position as a redeemed child of God.

Ps119 Pt11Pin

This Psalm ends with a verse that almost seems out of step with the rhythm of praise found in the rest of the stanza. Yet is makes sense when applied to our posture before the Lord.  We are lost sheep seeking His continuous renewal. In Jesus we have the Good Shepherd (John 10:14), who laid down His life that we could have a restored relationship with God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). With this, we know that we can “boldly approach the throne of grace [God], that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).”

When Jesus is our cornerstone, we are assured of God’s mercy and grace over our lives. We are also commanded to seek Sabbath rest. In my struggle accepting the limitations that chronic fatigue/illness have placed on my life, I’ve forgotten about the beauty of Sabbath rest. True, purposeful praise and thanksgiving can lead me into it. But what has been most vital to my life with chronic affliction is accepting God’s mercy and grace:

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” -Psalm 139:13-14a

God knows us intricately, and He built us to use us for His glory. What I see as my inabilities and shortcomings, God sees as new beginnings. God has a plan and His grace is sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I pray you let His grace be sufficient for you, too. Because in Him, we are given new life, and He won’t waste it.