Waiting with Expectation: Reflecting on Psalm 62

I gravitate towards Psalms when I’m feeling stomped on by life.  The emotion, imagery and rawness comfort me.  I apply them like Band-aids over my broken spots.

Yet, sometimes I think David is a drama queen, full of hyperbolic exaggerations. King David is labeled as the author of a number of Psalms in the fine print of the headings, including Psalm 62. And this week’s psalm is no exception for the drama queen status for me. That probably makes me sound like a heretic, but bear with me anyway.

David’s experiences feel so far apart from mine. I don’t have people out trying to kill me, destroy me, kick me while I’m down. Well, to the best of my knowledge anyway. I don’t really know what that’s like. Yes, I’ve been hurt by people. There are haters out there. I just struggle resonating with David here because I don’t feel like my life is on the line or that the world is out to get me. Well, at least not on my better days.

So I tend to gloss over David’s points about people out to get him because I just don’t get it emotionally. This week something changed in me.

Psalm 62 opens with the declaration that “My soul finds rest in God alone. God is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” After these words of confidence in God, David moves to his life circumstances — being attacked by others who want to see him fail; those who attack while he’s on his knees and weak.

I realized that the haters and naysayers that take up hostile residence in my brain function just like the real enemies that David mentions. They hobble me from moving forward, from taking risks, from creative leaps. They kick me when I’m down, and shame me when I make mistakes. They imagine that others don’t like me for arbitrary and stupid reasons (almost all of which are typically figments of my imagination). This week the anxiety monsters were having a field day lobbing thought grenades at a rapid fire pace.

After laying out the situational difficulties, David moves to commanding his soul to find rest in God alone. The beginning of the Psalm is descriptive. Now in verse 5, he’s trying to get his soul to take action in light of the circumstances. This is where faith is lived out. In the messiness and brokenness of life.

I can talk all I want about how awesome I believe God is, but those words are embodied and made true (or not) as I respond to the realities of life.

That’s the place I found myself in this week as I camped in Psalm 62 hoping for respite. I need the rest God alone can provide. I can’t bring myself to safety. I need to trust that God is faithful, that God alone is my honor and defender. I don’t need to prove myself. To earn love. To earn worthiness. All I have to do is rest in God — instead of chasing after false security from empty places.

What’s helped the most this week is JJ Heller’s song “Your Hands.” I feel like it’s a contemporary version of Psalm 62. I’m posting the lyrics below, but if you want the tune, search it on iTunes or YouTube (there’s no version from the artist on YouTube, so I’m not posting it here).

I have unanswered prayers.
I have trouble I wish wasn’t there.
And I have asked a thousand ways that you would take my pain away.
You would take my pain away.

I am trying to understand how to walk this weary land.
Make straight the paths that crooked lie.
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine.
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine.

When my world is shaking, heaven stands.
When my heart is breaking, I never leave your hands.

When you walked upon the earth,
You healed the broken, lost and hurt.
I know you hate to see me cry.
One day you will set all things right.
Yeah one day you will set all things right.

When my world is shaking, heaven stands.
When my heart is breaking, I never leave your hands.

Your hands that shaped the world are holding me.
They hold me still.

Even though some days the haters in my brain win, I’m trying to hold fast to the knowledge that I’m never outside God’s hands. Not that I don’t try to leave, but God is so faithful that I’m always in His palms. He doesn’t drop me. Even when I feel like I’m free falling and flipping end over end in the air, I’m still within God’s grasp.

Respite came, though only in small bursts. In little pockets of hope and glorious sunshine followed by spaces of darkness and white-knuckled grappling with my self-talk. I felt like a jack-in-the-box, all nicely contained at times. And then, something kept maniacally spinning my handle and out everything came exploding again and again.

Maybe this is clearer in another less emotional image. Gathering up rest and peace felt like trying to capture water in cupped hands. I get moments of peace where the water begins to pool; I can breathe and anxiety recedes. Then, spontaneously my fingers gap and the peace comes rushing out. I’m left with empty hands and having to start over.

So, I keep starting over and hanging in there. And the process has been painful and messy, but also healing. I find myself praying differently. I started inviting God to teach me something as I battled with the anxiety monsters; I asked myself to trust that God is using something in my situation for my healing, and to lean into that confidence like I’m bracing myself against a wall.

I am learning how to trust Jesus to be my Advocate instead of trying to run around fixing everything and striving so hard. I found pockets of rest as Jesus became someone who is “with me” in the journey, instead of only shaking his finger at me.

On Friday morning as I wrote in Starbucks and tried to regain some sanity and calm, I challenged myself with these words:

What if all I had to worry about today was resting in Jesus’ love for me? What if I didn’t need to earn it? What if I tried to say the following? I am enough. I have enough. Being me — writing, breathing, present — is enough. 

What if you asked yourself the same thing?

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