When I hear the news, I’ve noticed my mind runs in anxious circles over what’s happening in our world. But God pulls me into a hard stop and says, “Listen.” So, I have been and this what I’ve learned:
Worry and fretting don’t bring peace, but standing in wonder of God does.
Letting my thoughts run wild creates an avalanche of anxiety, but capturing my thoughts brings assurance that God is in control.
Allowing my faith to grow by hearing God’s word brings strength for the day to day.
Romans 10:17 states: “So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of God.”
I’ve begun the practice of reading the Bible out loud to myself during devotions. It might be a verse or two or a whole chapter or even half a chapter. But what I’ve discovered is how much it helps me pay attention to what I’m reading and how it’s building my faith.
I wanted to take it a step further and focus on trust building verses, so, I made a short six minute recording of some passages. The power of listening is amazing and has the power to change our thoughts, which changes our lives.
It’s my prayer that as you let God’s word soak into your heart that your faith grows so that you can face your personal struggles with the power of God.
He loves you with an everlasting love and enables you to stand firm on him, the Everlasting Rock and sure foundation for your feet.
We need you more than ever. Thank you for giving us your Word as a guide and comfort. May it pierce our hearts and may we draw ever closer to you. We ask that you do a mighty work in our lives and in our world. You are worthy of all praise and honor and glory.
The Lord is our hiding place and he is our strength in times of trouble. But how do we move from struggle to rest? How do we move from anxiety to peace? How does our trust grow when we can’t seem to see God in our circumstances? I came across Psalm 9:9-10 and knew I needed to explore it a bit more.
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.“
Do you ever wonder if this life’s unknowns feel like they are going to crush you? Or if you can handle one more day of your burden?
The answer is found in this phrase: “those who know your name will trust in you.” God’s name reveals his character, attributes, and heart towards us. When my understanding of who God is grows, my trust grows too.
Seven Names of God
If you need provision, he is your portion.
Yahweh Jireh: “The Lord will provide.” Genesis 22:14
If you need victory, He is the point around which we rally.
Yahweh Nissi: “The Lord is my Banner.” Exodus 17:15
If you need peace, his peace can flood your heart.
Yahweh Shalom: “The Lord is Peace.” Jud. 6:24
If you need shepherding:
Yahweh Ro’i: “The Lord my Shepherd.” Psalm 23:1
Look to him for guidance and protection.
If you need help living right, He makes us righteousness, not our own effort.
Yahweh Tsidkenu: “The Lord our Righteousness.”
If you need a father, he loves you better than you can imagine.
Abba: “Father, Daddy” Romans 8:15
If you feel unseen, God sees you and your heart.
El Ro’i: “The God who Sees.” Genesis 16
Prayer for your heart
Lord God, I want to know you more and more. You are my king and my God; my Banner and my Righteousness. As you reveal yourself more and more to me, grow my trust in you. I trust you Lord. I trust you with my past, my present, and my future. I surrender my need to control the outcome and rest in you. It’s in letting go and putting my needs in your capable hands that I find rest and when I rest, trust can grow. Lord, you are my peace and my victory. I give my heart, my life, my hopes, and my dreams to you. I know you are with me through it all and I trust you.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
When we get to know God’s character and his heart, our trust will grow. I’m praying that he reveals himself to you this week. If you’d like to read more about my book, Reframing Rejection, I’d love it if you would do so. It’s my mission trip to hearts who long to be set free from fear of rejection and seeking people’s approval.
Here are a couple of articles for you to read to grow your understanding of God’s word.
Sometimes our Christian growth gets marked by starts and stops; wet seasons and dry seasons; valleys and deserts; gentle rains and torrential down pours. Some years we grow by leaps and bounds and other years we take a couple or three steps backward. But God is faithful. He doesn’t give up on us, but continues to direct our steps asking us to trust him.
The one thing that this life with Christ has taught me is that all I need to do is trust. Trust his heart when the way seems too good to be true and trust his heart when the way ahead seems too awful to be real. He is for us friend, even when we struggle against our circumstances. What can we do to trust him? We can praise him.
“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” Psalm 34:1-3
“Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter.” Psalm 118:19-20
Affliction follows us because we live in a world influenced by sin. Weeds grow where we don’t want them to. Attitudes form that war against what the Holy Spirit tries to accomplish in us. We deal with offenses against ourselves and others and struggle to reach for forgiveness. But God uses it all to bring us ever nearer his heart. If we let him.
We can let him when we remember. We remember his benefit and that his mercies are new every morning. We remember his kindness to bring us to repentance. We remember that in him there is no turning of shadow, but that he is light in our darkness. And praise helps us remember.
A Prayer for Praise
Holy God, You are the Almighty One, forever exalted, the Beginning and the End. You know my ways and you lead and guide me in your paths of righteousness. I rejoice in who you are. You are Bread of Life, Living Water, Holy One, Friend, Savior, Lord, Good in all your ways, and my Eternal Father. I praise you that you give me mercies every morning and that your grace is available to me when I need it. Your peace is my peace, and in you is my reward. I look to you for satisfaction because you satisfy my every need. You are my portion. You write me on your hand and hold me close to your heart. I cry, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord and worthy to be praised. In Jesus’ name, Amen
I fell up the stairs the other day (again). I promise I’ve walked those stairs numerous times and haven’t fallen down them (yet). But going up them? That’s another story. Falling forward is something I’m pretty familiar with. My toe hits the step first, then my knee and shin take the brunt of my weight, and I’m left limping the rest of the way.
Sometimes it feels like we go through life limping. We can’t seem to shake the regret that haunts us. Or we struggle with doubting God’s goodness. Or maybe there’s a habit that we can’t seem to shake. We try harder, but we’re left feeling weaker. When I’m feeling this way, I remember Paul the Apostle.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NIV
Even Paul had an issue that he struggled with. We don’t know what it was, just that he called it a thorn. Have you ever had a sliver you can’t seem to see well enough to pull it out? It aggravates and distracts. It throbs and pulsates.
But what did the Lord say to him?
That God’s grace is sufficient.
That God’s power is made perfect in weakness.
We can’t be strong in our own strength, but we can receive grace and strength from the One who made us and calls us his beloved children. Our weakness provides the ideal opportunity for God to display his divine power in our lives
Our weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties provide us opportunities to delight in God as he perfects his power in us. When we let him navigate us through our weaknesses, our glory and thanksgiving comes from a place of, “Only you, God. Not me, not my genius, not my strategy, but you.”
You are strong and I am weak. The burdens I bear feel too heavy and I’m not sure I can carry them any longer. So I lay them down at your feet and I lay me down on your mercy and grace. Will you work in me to strengthen me to follow you? Will you fill me with your grace and power so that I can run the race you have me on? You word says that I might be hard-pressed but I won’t be crushed. So, Lord, I look to you. You are my source of strength and power. I bring you my weaknesses and hidden hurts and say, “Help me. I cannot do this on my own.” Be my strength and show me your ways.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
I believe that God has good in store for you and that he’s holding you as you walk through the hills and valleys, mountains and meadows, and along cliffs and through deep ravines. Keep your eyes fixed on him, steady your heart, and hold onto him.
Have you ever felt that your weakness holds you back?
Maybe you feel like your soul limps through life and you experience the same difficulty over and over again and that somehow you failed because you can’t quite seem to move past it.
I shared a post on Instagram a few weeks ago about exchanging our weaknesses for God’s strength and how it’s in our weaknesses that God demonstrates his strength. His strength isn’t dependent on me overcoming, but it’s because of him I overcome.
What do you need to overcome today?
What “middle” are you in? Marriage? Career? Parenting? Health crisis? The middle parts of our journey refine our faith because we’re far from the beginning and the end is not yet in sight. I’ve found comfort in a passage from Psalms 27:13-14:
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
A Hidden Strength to Remember
Next to this verse written in blue ink is the date 8/28/98 and nothing else. Nothing to indicate what was going on in my life, but I remember that season. That was the season in the middle of recovering from a miscarriage and praying for a child. The months passed and the middle grew ever longer. Despair fought a war with hope. I didn’t know what the end would look like, but I chose to stand on the declaration of these verses.
It takes courage to stand on a truth when you can’t see it for yourself.
It takes faith to wait believing God is still good when the voices around you tell you he’s not.
It takes strength to hold your heart steady when the storm rages.
Strength in Stillness
We read in Joshua 1:6 to “be strong and courageous”. It’s a battle stance. Face the winds that blow. Hold your ground against the enemy. And so we do. But we grow tired and weary. Our shoulders sag and we lose our balance.
Then we read in Psalm 46:10 to “be still and know that I am God.” So we rest. We cease striving and fall forward into him. Maybe we face plant in the muck of our life. Maybe we hide behind a closed door. We retreat so we can rest. And in that time we remind ourselves about what we know about God:
He is good.
He is faithful.
He is victorious.
He is our bread of life.
He is our living water.
He is with us.
He is light.
And in the stillness our courage grows and we stand strong and courageous once again. We square our shoulders knowing he has our back. We plant our feet knowing that he is our solid rock. We lift our hands knowing that praise is our most powerful weapon. We wait for the Lord and take heart because he is faithful to his promises.
Today’s Prayer for Hidden Strength
You are mighty to save, ever-faithful, and always true. I am confident that I will see you move in the middle of my middle. You are my rest and peace and I trust in you. Guide my hands, my steps, my thoughts, and my ways. Let me know your strength in me as I rest in you.
In Jesus’ name,
If you’re a parent of adult children, myself and a few friends put together a compilation of devotions to help you navigate parenting adult children with grace. You can get it completely free by clicking the link: Navigating Life with Adult Children
Here’s the post from instagram about exchanging our weaknesses for God’s strength.
If you’d like to learn more about my book, you can click here. I would so love and appreciate your prayers and support. It’s a scary/exciting adventure writing a book. (and slow)
As always, Blessings and prayers from my heart to yours,
Jessica of Welcome Grace
The Lord is enough and our portion, but sometimes the suffering in life takes our eyes off of this truth. Listen in on one of my letters of grace to readers who subscribe to Welcome Grace. I’d love to send you these Grace Notes to you too! Sign up using the banner at the top of the page.
Because of God’s love. . . our fears and doubts don’t have to consume us.
Because of his compassions. . .we can trust him for the next step.
Because of long, dark, nights. . .we know the kind of joy that comes in the morning that fills us with peace.
May your hearts and lives grow in love for the Lord as you wait on him. His mercies are new every morning. He is your portion. Great is his faithfulness.
Praise is the final piece in biblical lament. It’s the paradoxical nature of life with Christ. We worship in spirit and truth. God is both merciful and just. We lay down our life and live as living sacrifices. Lament is both pain and praise.
I encourage journalling as a way to process emotions, pain, wounds, and regrets, but the way I journal has changed over the years. One journal, from my “old way” of processing emotions, reeks of judgmental, negative, and self-righteous attitudes. It contains the full expression of my emotions and my cries for help written in black and white for all to see, but the confession of trust, the petition for help, and any type of praise is noticeably absent.
That old journal is despairing rather than hopeful. I contemplate burning that old journal, but I keep it tucked away as a reminder of what happens to sorrow and pain when it’s not processed through the biblical lens of lament. Someday my grown up kids will sort through my belongings and find that gorgeous covered journal filled with rotten words that led me further into despair and hopelessness, but they will also find a stack of journals that grew my heart.
Let Praise Lead
The lament arc takes us from despair to release to hope and, finally, to praise because it allows for the full expression of emotions this life provides. When we tuck our emotions into a chest in the depths of our heart’s attic, we rob ourselves of a deeper authenticity with Christ. Sorrow, pain, disappointment, fear, and, even anger, give us an opportunity to run towards God. However, we wonder how to, “Praise the Lord” or declare, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul,” when our lives fall apart.
Lament is not merely a venting session of all the ugly that hides in our heart. Venting the full breadth of our emotions without biblical exhortation results in a gossipy, negative view of our struggles and the people in it. My old journal is a prime example. God longs to shower us with grace and he’s given us lament as a way to share our hearts with him and a way for our hearts to be reminded of his goodness and grace.
Praise in Lament
A beautiful example of this is from Psalm 31:19-24:
“Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city. I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help. Love the Lord, all you saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”
David ends his lament with words of praise. He praises God for his abundant goodness and reminds himself to keep fearing the Lord and finding refuge in him. We need to re-remember what we already know. God is for us. He preserves us. But it’s easy to let our circumstances cause amnesia when our “heart melts like wax” and the “what-ifs” grow our fear.
One of the Hebrew words for praise is Towdah and it renders as a “confession of thanks and praise for what God is going to do.” We cannot confuse what we wish God to do based on our agenda, but we must base our praise on what God is going to do because of his character.
His character is solid, and he doesn’t forsake us because he is faithful. Light floods our darkness because he is light. We experience good gifts because he is a good father. He brings us strength because he is full of joy.
Praising God based on his character is what allows our heart to grab hold of courage. Praising God in our lament reminds us that God is God and we are not. The whole world rests in his hands and on his shoulders, not ours. Through lament we find surrender, hope and courage for our weary, exhausted, hurting hearts.
Ending our lament with praise points our hearts to our good, good Father and fills us with hope.
Asking for help doesn’t come without risk, and voicing questions holds opportunities for ridicule. But sometimes the risk is worth the ride and the questions unfold into glorious answers. However, before I give voice to my question, I jump through mental hoops like these:
“Shouldn’t I know this?”
“What if I come across ignorant?”
“That’s a stupid request.”
“I don’t know how to ask this without offending anyone.”
I keep telling myself and my kids that there isn’t a dumb question because asking questions is a sign of someone who’s hungry for knowledge and information. It’s when those questions reveal that I need something from someone–whether it’s someone’s help or their acknowledgement or advice– that I feel like I’m a major inconvenience. Too often, I turn to Google or Alexa because they’re less intimidating. My racing heart stills and the idea cements that I need to figure things out on my own.
In our self-sufficiency driven culture, the pressure to know all the things or at least perceive to know all the things creates a pride that prevents us from asking. On the flipside, insecurity whispers that we’d just better figure this life out on our own because we’re really not that important. Pride and insecurity drive us away from the One who receives our questions and who desires to give us good gifts.
If we turn to the first few chapters in Genesis, we discover the tendency of human nature towards self-sufficiency. Two humans in a perfect relationship with God hid from God once sin entered the world. Instead of running to God they ran away from him. They turned to themselves in an attempt to solve the problem.
Our tendency is independence and self-sufficiency, but self-sufficiency and independence feeds the pride that prevents us from running to God in times of need. When we screw up, we want to cover up. But God asks us to uncover and run straight to him.
Take Up Your Courage
Hebrews 4:12-16 tells us that God sees all things because everything is laid bare before him. It tells us that we have a high priest who intercedes for us and makes a way for us to boldly approach the throne of God to receive the grace we need.
Imagine if we approached all our problems with this mentality. Envision running towards God, crying for help, pouring out our hearts to him, confessing our trust, and asking for what we want. This is the power of lament: it brings us to a place of peaceful trust because we run towards God instead of away. It gives our heart a place to dump the hidden and the visible garbage. Lament allows God to make something beautiful out of our pain.
We don’t need to have it all figured out before we come to God. We don’t need to be prim and proper or spit and polished. It’s in the coming to him– just as we are– where he refines us and creates beauty out of ashes.
Bring Your Petition
Using Psalm 31 as a model, we see how David brought his petition before the Lord.
14 But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” 15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me. 16 Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love. 17 Let me not be put to shame, Lord, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and be silent in the realm of the dead. 18 Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
David begins the petition portion of his lament with a redeclaration of his trust in God. Then he goes on to ask for deliverance from his enemies and that God would save him. He petitions God to look toward him and not let him be put to shame.
Reveal Your Heart
These verses echo what’s so often hiding in our hearts: that God would do something about our circumstances and that his face would be turned towards us–in the big and little stuff of life. Yet, we’re often shamed into hiding our need. Shame leads us to false belief that we don’t deserve God’s help. Fear of disappointment holds us back from asking the question: “What do I want God to do for me today?”
And that’s the question I leave with you: What do you want God to do for you? Is it healing, provision, intercession, advocacy, trust, peace, or strength? Take your pain, tell God everything, redeclare your trust in him, and ask. Take courage and be bold.
Emotions scare me because they’re so powerful, yet render me powerless. The power of them takes me by surprise, like touching a hot pan. I yank back in defensiveness, shielding my wound. Emotions surrounding the pain of shattered friendships, lousy news, and broken trust cause me to harden my heart. Countless times, I’ve tried to shield my heart from the extremes of emotions, but I’ve realized that if I fail to experience the fulness of sadness and anger then joy and love don’t reach their full potential.
God has gifted us with the language of lament in order to grow our faith, proclaim hope, and teach us love. Lament is the language of emotion, and without lament, our hurtful experiences dictate the way we interact with God, ourselves, and others. Without a safe place for expression, we withdraw or cast blame. This prevents us from the abundance that the Lord offers in John 10:10.
Exploring Emotions within the Context of the Psalms
Exploring our emotions is part of learning to live in the fullness he provides, but out of control emotions create consequences in our lives that lead to more regret. We shout words we can never take back, we slam cupboard doors, and we choose indifference rather than deference. A shroud of sorrow lingers over our happiest moments and we ease around that massive problem we try to ignore.
As Christ-followers, we are not immune to struggles. Pain, sorrow, and disappointment follow us, interrupt us, and surprise us. We understand the importance of learning the language of lament, we’ve explored the cry of help, and the confession of trust. Today, we cover the expression of pain.
One of the best ways to learn to express our heart’s pain is to read the Psalms as if we’re writing them. When David writes in Psalm 31:9, “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief,” we are given the okay to tell God about our distress.
Psalm 31 guides us to sit with God in the pain and recognize that our emotional distress affects our physical body. When we’re weary from an emotional storm, it grows more and more difficult to make choices that honor God with what we do and say.
Let Emotions Remind us of God’s Goodness
When our eyes are weak with sorrow and our body wracked with grief, let’s take David’s words and make them our own. David knew distress; he felt forgotten and rejected by so-called friends. People plotted against him and he wondered when and if things would ever turn around.
I’ve been there, have you? As I page through my Bible, I find evidence of relating to exactly what David experienced. As I repeatedly read through the Psalms, I come to margins with scribbled dates beside them that remind me that God is my help, defender, and rescuer.
Learning to lament through reading the Psalms is the best way to learn to express the gamut of emotions created by the human experience. It enables us to give voice to our deepest hurts, our deepest regrets, and our deepest sorrows. Imagine the outcome if you’re able to lead your heart to hope the next time an emotional storm whips through your life.
Lament is the language that leads us through our sorrow and into praise. Trouble comes to us. We know disappointment and frustration; sorrow and pain. Trusting the Lord and taking hold of courage in the midst of problems grows our faith when we use the language of lament.
The Mourning Song of Lament and Trust
Lament is the song our hearts sing as it mourns our circumstances, as it points our hearts to trust in God’s character, and as it expresses all the pain that we never dreamed we would feel. Lament’s song gives voice to our pain and brings hope to our heart. We begin our lament with the releasing cry of our worries, anxieties, disappointments, anger, and heartbreak. It’s an emptying of everything in our heart: the ugly parts we try and hide, the doubt we cover up with weak faith, and the fear that maybe God won’t come through for us.
As we empty our hearts of all it’s turmoil, we remind ourselves to trust in God. In lament, we confess our trust because our hearts need the reminder of the truth about God’s character. Trust is defined as a “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing.” (dictionary.com) In one five letter word, we discover a depth of meaning.
Truths for Trust
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
“But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord know those who are his,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.'” 2 Timothy 2:19
The Pendulum Swings
When we face confusing or hurtful circumstances, our understanding of God’s character goes on trial. Our emotions sway our hearts, like a pendulum, back and forth, back and forth, but a heart that finds its anchor in the Lord of Hosts is the heart that learns the lament. We cry and then we confess trust.
But what happens when our emotions of despair and depression keep swinging to rage and threaten our peace of mind? Confession of trust is more than just saying over and over again, “I trust you, God.” It’s declaring the truth about God while feeling the emotions of despair.
A Look into Psalm 31’s Lament and Trust
If we look at Psalm 31 as an example we see how David confessed his trust in God and declared truth about God’s character. We find David asking God to rescue him while re-remembering God’s character and attributes.
God is a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, refuge, and redeemer. It’s these that David writes for himself and for us in times of trial. David calls God faithful as he commits himself to God no matter what he faces. In verse three, we read an echo of Psalm 23 where God leads and guides. David rejoices because he knows God sees his affliction and knows the distress of his soul and that God’s steadfast love holds him fast.
Lament Confessing Trust
A confession of trust is not an absence of fear or doubt, but the expression of confidence that God is bigger than our circumstances, fears, and sorrow. And not only is he bigger than all that pain, but he is compassionate beyond our wildest imaginations. Even when life hurts and we don’t understand what God is doing or why he is not acting the way we expect, we can trust his heart.
His heart is trustworthy because his love is steadfast. By remembering that we cannot be separated from his love, that his love stays the same, that his love isn’t double-minded, or performance based, we can face our afflictions with trust because God sees our soul’s distress and feels compassion towards us. We can be glad in his steadfast love even when we’re facing troubles. This is what grows our trust so that we can confess our trust. Lament leads our heart through sorrow to praise and finally to hope when we cry out our pain and then confess our trust.