Spiritual sanity – 22 May 2020
By Xanthe Hancox
It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that the most common type of song in the Psalms is not praise, or even thanks, but lament. Like many of us, David was not always poised to offer praise and thanks. More often than not, we find ourselves pleading with God to help, to heal, to remedy, to rescue.
Take Psalm 6, for instance. Hard circumstances in David’s life have led him to see his sin, and to cry out to God for rescue. But David also has been sinned against, and gravely. So his pain and confusion in Psalm 6 are great. And in such a whirlwind of disorientation, God doesn’t tell him, and us, to just grit our teeth, put on a smile, and sing a happy song. He invites us to tell him all our sorrows.
God sees and knows our confusion, and doesn’t sweep it under the rug, but acknowledges it.
If you read the full psalm, you’ll see David’s pain and confusion rapidly transform into confidence. He goes from languishing and troubled (v2), to assured that God has heard his prayer (v8). How does God do this?
The answer is in the psalm itself. Spiritual sanity is restored, in the midst of disorientation, in the very act of addressing God and remembering who he is and what he has promised. Laments like this are not exercises in wallowing or making things worse. Rather, they are exercises in the Godward restoration of spiritual sanity. Through them we move in spirit from disorientation to reorientation, and in doing so regain the strength of soul to endure until God addresses our external circumstances in his good timing.
You might say, “That’s all well and good for David. He was the king of God’s chosen people. Of course God heard his prayers! But I’m literally one in a billion Christians worldwide. How do I know that God receives my prayers? Can I say with David, “The Lord has heard; he accepts my prayer”? Can I have anything close to the confidence David has?”
You can have every bit as much confidence as David. In fact, in Christ, we have more.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that you invite us to cry out to you. Thank you that you hear, that you will act in your timing, and that you will give us what we need to endure until that day. Amen