I am, this morning, so incredibly discouraged. Deeply saddened.
My plate is full today–work, parenting–and yet I can’t seem to get out from underneath this ache in order to get moving.
I should take great encouragement in the midst of sharp alone-ness from the many, many scriptures that declare that God will never leave, nor forsake. And, I do. Deuteronomy 31:8. Deuteronomy 31:6. Joshua 1:9. Matthew 28:20. The list of scripture is long. And, I’m fighting to grasp these truths. I am grateful they are there.
But, good grief, this ache is so sharp.
It is made of all things ugly—first and foremost, my ugly, ugly sin. Why am I so like Paul, continually doing the things I despise; his words are mine: nothing good dwells in me.
And other things, too painful to put in words that are public and not pass-word protected and tucked away.
My heart—my soul–is failing this morning.
And so, I am finding the words of Psalm 73:23-26 to be like Bactine to me this morning. Do you remember Bactine? I don’t even know if they make it any more. It’s the spray that the school nurse would use on your knees, when you’d go flying across the blacktop during recess and trip over an untied shoelace, and take a layer of skin off. (Or maybe only I did that. Weekly.) You’d limp to the nurse, holding a bloody paper towel to your knee, and she’d roughly clean it off and then spray Bactine on it to make it better. But, it didn’t feel like she was making it better, because Bactine stung. Like crazy. That’s what these verses are, to my raw soul (and knees) this morning:
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Whom have I in heaven, but God? My flesh and my heart are failing. They are failing. But I must work. I must provide for my family. I deeply want to care well for those God has brought into my world, who are hurting and shattered, as we meet today. I must go to the grocery store. I must figure out what is wrong with my stupid van, again. I must pay the bills that are due today, and take my girl to violin lessons, and my boy to his soccer game. But, o my soul, how my flesh and heart are failing.
God is the strength of my heart. Bactine. Whom have I in heaven, but you? Bactine. Nevertheless, I am continually with you. Bactine. You hold me my right hand. Bactine. God is my portion forever. Bactine. There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. Bactine.
These words sting. I’m not sure why, they just do. They hurt. But sometimes we need Bactine to keep the infection of despair at bay. Why, soul, are you downcast? Hope in God. Hope in God.
And afterward, you will receive me to glory.