Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Clinging Kind of Faith

Psalm 63

A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.

I love the Psalms. I think it has to do with the fact that they are so much like the pages of my own journal. They are full of heart cries, hard questions, deep longings, and uncontainable praise. They’re real. But sometimes I forget that, and I read them wrong. Like this one. I read it as words from a man who had it all together. I read it as if David was unshaken, like this declaration of faith was his knee-jerk reaction to the dismal situation he was in. When I read these words from the desert, it’s so easy for me to picture David as some invincible superhero who never battled doubt, whose feelings always lined up with his statements of faith. But I don’t think that’s accurate.

I think if I could see the manuscript and the man writing it, they would both be a lot different than I imagine. I think I would see the ragged script of a shaking hand. I would see letters blurred by tears. I would see ink blotches where he hesitated, wondering if he could ever really mean the words he was writing. And in all of that, I would sense the battle raging inside him. I would sense the same cry of a father in the gospels who cried, “I believe. Help my unbelief!” I wouldn’t see a fearless man. I would see a man desperately clinging to hope, writing down these words because he needs to believe them. I would see a man praying God would make his words true. I would see someone a whole lot more like me.

Sometimes faith is a willingness to say things we don’t feel yet. It’s gritting our teeth, letting the tears fall, and saying with determination: I WILL praise you. Your love IS better than life. I don’t know how it could ever happen, but You ARE my help and, someday, I WILL be fully satisfied. Faith is taking a mustard seed and crying out in desperation, “Lord, help my unbelief!” It’s a clinging kind of faith, and that’s comforting to me. May it comfort you as well.


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