I once did. It felt like a balloon in my chest quickly deflated. As I ransacked my mind for Scripture to keep me hopeful, my faith’s air level neared zero, and then it was too late—my heart decided to blame God. I never experienced this before. Even when life served its worst circumstances, I had faith that God saw and heard me.
Not this time. I have often heard of others who reached this pit, and I somehow knew I would not go unscathed the day disbelief came for me. But my faith in God’s care didn’t drain away in the ruins of one of my jovial dreams like I always thought it would. No. It chose to leave me on a winter night as I watched my mother mentally calculate how much time she had before her car would be repossessed. And like a mother who tries to grab her toddler before they run off, I grasped at the last strands of my faith and mustered an encouragement. “Things will be okay, mom; just pray.” I half-believed that prayer would help, and I reasoned it would be easier to survive my own distrust than survive my mother’s.
Being raised by a single parent has its challenges. It is often characterized by lack: lack of food, lack of clothes. And this was just another instance of not having enough. It wasn’t until I took a walk that I remembered the words of my precious Lord: “Do not be anxious about your life” (Matthew 6 v 25). The reminder was a balm to an ache. Verses 31-32 came to my rescue next: “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” I was reminded that God indeed sees me and all my needs: this word comforted me, and it fueled my faith for months.
His Firm Grip
I recall this time in my life when I read the psalmist’s words in Psalm 119 v 49: Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. David’s steadfast hope was in what God assured him of. Because God himself did the promising, David could boldly proclaim, You said it, Lord. Now remember me. If God said it, then it is a sure thing. In the times when we feel invisible, we can counter those fickle feelings that tell us we don’t matter with the truth that God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13 v 5). When the disappointments of life weigh us down, we can remember that God is the lifter of our heads (Psalm 3 v 3). When we feel like we are doing life alone, we can know that it is God who helps us (Isaiah 41 v 10). God also gives us hope in his word. He knows he can be counted on, and he kindly fastens our hearts to his promises.
"A hope deferred makes a heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12), but the Lord gives us the expectation of hopes met, and he graciously meets them. Pick a promise of God’s and hold on to it dearly, knowing that as you cling, his hands strengthen your grip. God’s comforting word doesn’t only birth hope, but it also gives life. Consider Isaiah 55 v 10-11: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth.” The word of God waters, nourishes, and revives our hearts. It alone quenches our thirst. His promises grow us and will even permeate those around us, if we let them. O, the blessings we miss when we are not regularly communing with our God! David’s comfort in his affliction was exactly this: God’s word, which brings the dead to life. The Lord’s promises proved true to a boy on the run from a power-thirsty king (1 Samuel 21 – 31). Can our hearts remain hard toward the same God, who calls the heavens and earth to stand together (Isaiah 48 v 13)? Will our souls remain anxious when the Christ who died for us commands us, “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5 v 36)?
A Name in the Night
David tells God in verse 55 that “I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.” What does it mean to “remember” God’s “name”? God’s name is his character, his essence, his attributes—his very being. It’s not just a name. When we consider Exodus 33 and 34, we understand what David is saying here more fully. In Exodus 33:18, Moses said, “Please show me your glory,” which is, literally, the full weight or essence of God. The Lord replied to Moses, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ God proclaimed his name because that was what revealed his character and glory. He said, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:6-7). To remember the Lord’s name as David does in Psalm 119 v 55 is to meditate upon and enjoy the very essence of God, which Exodus 34 tells us is God’s mercy, grace, patience, love, faithfulness, forgiveness, and justice.
After the busyness of the day, while lying in bed, David recollected all these things about his God. He contemplated the Lord’s mercy, grace, and compassion towards him. Maybe David reflected on God’s patience with him despite his sin (2 Samuel 11), and considered how God stayed faithful even when he had not. Instead of fretting and calculating as you lie in bed, let the weight of the essence of God comfort you to sleep and spur you in righteousness. His glory comforts your heart as it conquers your fears. And knowing that God is good and just and true and faithful heartens us to keep his word. This is ultimately one of the greatest blessings: obeying the word of God. In Psalm 119 v 56, David says, “This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts.” His character, works, and loving-kindness compel us to walk in his way, and there we find blessing. This desire is not our own doing. It is a gracious gift from above.
Trust in the Word
My mother’s car did not get repossessed... that time. The low canyons of life have taught me that I would do good to remember the word of my Lord. The only wise and reviving—though sometimes hard—thing to do is to run to my God, the Rock and Fortress (Psalm 18 v 2). In good times and bad times, his word is the source of life. It refreshes my soul and comforts my heart better than anything the world can offer. Fretting only leads to sin (Psalm 37 v 8). Worry is of no benefit to us. The disparity between our trust in God during good and in bad times should pain our hearts. It is easy to trust in God when the rent is paid, but there is a wondrous and deep comfort when you lack—and go on to see God’s provision, often in surprising ways, with your own eyes. God is always giving us himself, and that is always enough. Take rest in the truth that God is who he says he is, beloved.
How long will we be dealing with COVID-19? How long will these government restrictions last?