God, you are my righteousness, my Champion Defender.
Answer me when I cry for help!
Whenever I was in distress, you enlarged me.
I’m being squeezed again—I need your kindness right away!
Grant me your grace, hear my prayer, and set me free!
Listen to me, you elite among men:
How long will you defame my honor
and drag it down into shame?
Will you ever stop insulting me?
How long will you set your heart on shadows,
chasing your lies and delusions?
May we never forget that Yahweh works wonders
for every one of his devoted lovers.
And this is how I know that he will answer my every prayer.
Tremble in awe before the Lord, and do not sin against him.
Be still upon your bed and search your heart before him.
Bring to Yahweh the sacrifice of righteousness and put your trust in him.
Lord, prove them wrong when they say, “God can’t help you!”
Let the light of your radiant face
break through and shine upon us!
The intense pleasure you give me
surpasses the gladness of harvest time,
even more than when the harvesters
gaze upon their ripened grain
and when their new wine overflows.
Now, because of you, Lord, I will lie down in peace and sleep comes at once,
for no matter what happens, I will live unafraid! (TPT)
This is a psalm of David. It is a heartfelt and confident plea for deliverance.
David had a track record with God. For most of his life, David had a spiritual and relational rhythm of looking to God, trusting God, and resting secure in God.
I’m not sure where the idea popped up amongst some Christians that faith and trust in God means everything in life is going to be hunky-dory and a bowl of cherries. That was not true of any godly character in the Bible. In fact, it seems the more integrity one has in Scripture, the more they faced trouble and suffering.
It is the pea-brained, small-hearted, and gutless who have the time and privilege of leveling criticism and defamation on the ones sincerely trying to make a difference in this world. On the one hand, it is unfortunate that the spiritually devoted must put up with the petulance of puny people. Yet, on the other hand, the faithful recognize God controls all things and uses anything and anyone to shape them as persons who have grown expansive spiritual faculties, enlarged hearts, and gut-feeling compassion. The wise truly learn from all things.
The godly have become so because they have learned over-and-over again to let God champion their cause and defend their personhood. The faithful reflexively cry out to the Lord with all their troubles. The devoted aren’t shy in boldly telling God exactly what they want and need. They find joy in their spirituality, and they let it support them in stressful times.
God has shown them steadfast love. And they are supremely secure in the settled conviction that God has their backs. They believe it so much that followers of God can lay their heads on their pillows at night and fall asleep – despite the reality there are those who would take their life, if given half the chance.
Insomnia happens for a lot of reasons. Many, like me, have sleep apnea and restless leg disorder, both diagnosed medical conditions. Others can’t get a good night’s rest because of poor sleep hygiene by not planning for adequate sleep, drinking too much caffeine during the day, inattention to a healthy diet, or a host of other habits. Some, like my dear wife, have issues of chronic pain which can make it difficult to sleep well.
And then there are yet others who suffer from racing thoughts, anxiety, and depression. The stress of their waking life is so significant that several hours of deep sleep seems only like some pipe dream. It’s impossible to sleep when the weight of the day is pressing on you. Finding a sense of calm before bed isn’t easy—especially when you can’t unplug from the demands of your day.
I am wondering if many of us will even allow ourselves to unplug and establish some quiet wind-down time. Reading a real book – not one on a backlit tablet device – or talking with a friend or family member are simple ways of easing our anxiety and letting rest come.
The psalmist, David, had a regular practice of meditating on Scripture, recalling the events of God, and expressing gratitude and praise for answered prayer. Each of us has a built-in spiritual rhythm just like we have a circadian rhythm. Always trying to buck those God-given rhythms will inevitably result in being “off,” at the least, and experiencing debilitating depression, at worst.
Yet, when we learn to move with the unforced rhythms of grace, there is a groove we slip into which serves us well. In other words, allowing ourselves to be human brings health.
David had neither delusions nor illusions about his enemies, friends, others, and himself. He didn’t try to be somebody he was not. Instead, David had firm and confident convictions about God and the place of prayer. A steady diet of David’s psalms teaches us to hold together both faith and doubt, confidence and confusion, perseverance and perplexity in ways which strengthens belief.
Christ be with you: Christ within you;
Christ before you: Christ behind you;
Christ on your right: Christ on your left;
Christ above you: Christ beneath you;
Christ around you: now and ever. Amen.