Psalm 56. I am LIVING this Psalm 56 right now, guys. And I blew my mind to read it today.
I just heard a pretty painfully convicting sermon on the game of comparison that came back to this scripture penned from the heart of David. I say that it was convicting because I’ve been doing A LOT of the comparing thing lately. Full disclosure: I have dreams of being a stay-at-home mom and living in a particular community. I feel a real call from God to be home with my babes and that’s backed up by things I’ve found in the Bible. And I long to live in the particular community because it puts me closer to the majority of my personal community – my God friends, and recently, even my mom and sister have moved there.
I just gave birth to my son, my second child, and I hoped wholeheartedly that I wouldn’t have to leave him to go back to work. Yet as of two weeks ago, I’m back to work. My husband and I began house shopping in the community I love and yet, it seems everything we’ve seen so far isn’t going to work out.
Between going back to work when I know that I know that I know God designed me as a woman to bear and raise my children and finally getting approved to purchase a home and it being quite likely that house won’t be where I feel like God called me so many years ago, I’m crushed. It adds to my grief, I know, that so many people around me are living one, if not both, of those dreams. I have a bunch of stay-at-home-mom friends and I obviously have a bunch of friends and family living in the area I want to live. Not only does it feel like my own dreams are dying, I have a front row seat to a bunch of people who’ve been given my dreams.
Those of us that are stuck in this game of comparison, guys, it’s much more serious business than we give it credit for. Things snowball out of control and it starts with comparison.
1 Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack.
2 My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me.
5 All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin.
6 They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, hoping to take my life.
I’ve done quite a bit of comparing my life to theirs and I’ve done a lot of grieving over this, and I think it’s put me in a really vulnerable place, making me ripe for the enemy’s picking. And, boy, has that sneaky snook been doing some picking at me.
Day and night, as of late, I have found myself tempted in ways I haven’t experienced in years because I’ve been allowing myself to feel so discontent and ungrateful, and I won’t lie and say that I haven’t felt ashamed for some of the thoughts and feelings I’ve entertained in the last few months as these things have been falling down around me. I know that daily, we are all in need of so much mercy, but it’s really made me feel so far from grace.
But it has all been to distract me from the wonderful works of God in my life right now, trying to steal my joy, kill my faith, and destroy my peace. The enemy has cunningly twisted my God-given desires and ushered me right into idolatry, and used my disappointment with God’s choices to distract me from the truth that He works all these things for my good and His glory.
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
I really scared myself a few days ago. I actually felt the desire for rebellion. In my head, I knew better, but my flesh… man, my flesh was ready to take off running and railroad everything. I wasn’t getting what I wanted when and how I wanted it, so I wanted to rebel against God, my husband, my family, everybody and everything I live my life for. And for what? And that scared me.
So I did what I knew God directs us to in times where sin is trying to run rampant in our lives, even though I totally didn’t want to. I turned to the book of Romans and kept fighting it with the Word of God.
4 In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
10 In God, whose word I praise in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?
Eventually, the Word called me to confess. I had breakfast with a good friend a few days ago and I poured literally everything out in front of her. I held nothing back about what my flesh wanted. And like a good God friend, she gave me some advice and held me accountable to make a few changes to some things in my life, even down to how I do social media in order to flee from all kinds of odd temptations. As scary as it could have been to admit that to someone else, I knew that the Lord wanted me to tell someone else about this and because of His grace and mercy, she passed no judgments on me and treated me like the wonderful sister in Christ that she is and I was able to do this without fear.
I was so affirmed by my experience of confession to her that I was able to then go and share my heart with my husband as well.
7 Because of their wickedness do not let them escape; in your anger, God, bring the nations down.
8 Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll, are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.
God promises that our enemies will flee from us seven ways when we claim His name (Deuteronomy 28:7). He promises to put our enemy under our feet (Luke 20:43) . I’m reminded of the worship song, ‘Shout Unto God’ by Hillsong UNITED that sings: “The enemy has been defeated |death couldn’t hold You down | Gonna lift our voice in victory | Gonna make your praises loud.” That’s what Jesus has already done. We are not defeated, sin is. The enemy, the devil, is defeated, not us.
Jesus also promises that He is with us in our grief (Psalm 34:18), and not only is He with us, He feels it too – see John 11 for the story of Lazarus. Jesus wept with Mary and Martha at the passing of their brother Lazarus, even though He knew He would call him up from the grave. Paul also tells us that Jesus knows our hearts and feels our pain in Hebrews 4:15-16.
12 I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
Comparison and envy, at the root of the matter, is ultimately not trusting God. I got so wrapped up in other people living my dream that I forgot God is trustworthy and faithful.
I loved this line as I read this Psalm today in light of all I’ve been going through: “I am under vows to you, my God.” I don’t quite know if that means vows that we have made to God ourselves or if, to God, from where He sits, we are covered under these vows and these promises. It struck me, though, because we are fallible and God is infallible. His promises, His vows mean more than ours because they are unchanging, and His have been and will continue to be fulfilled.
He promises that He will be a firm foundation to us, that He will steady the rough waters, that He will deliver us from death, and help us to stand up underneath the temptations of sin. I could cite a dozen scriptures or more for all of that, but we know them all well. It’s time we start living like they’re true – it’s time I start.
We are under His promises and are therefore guaranteed certain liberties and truths, that we are not and cannot be defeated, that we are set free from the bondage of sin and shame, and that we are loved unconditionally and saved by grace. And because of that, we are able to “lift our voice(s) in victory and make Your praises loud” God. May we shout unto You with voices of triumph and praise. End of story.