In our loneliness and anguish, we can come back to the gospel. We can be reminded of God’s amazing grace, mercy, and love toward us. We can ask God to pour more of his grace, mercy, and love on to us. Asking him to help us experience these truths more fully in the midst of the anguish we are in.
He is the Lord Almighty and we can rest in him. So often we try to do God’s job. We put the weight of the world on our shoulders, thinking it’s our job to solve all of life’s problems. We forget that our job is to worship and glorify the King, it’s his job to do everything else. The psalms have been clear that all of our problems in this life are not going to go away, but they are also clear that God defeats Satan. God defeats evil. God is the ultimate victor and we are on his team. We can rest and trust in him through all of the ups and downs of this life. Through the times we are drowning. Through the storm and the war.
Even when I am walking through the darkest valley…through despair…through depression…through death itself…even in these times…you make me lie down in green pastures. You lead me beside quiet waters. The dark valley of death and the green pastures and quiet water exist simultaneously.
We need to be very careful here not to try to create a perfect theology about why this is, either trying to get God off the hook or somehow explain this exception in the prayer-formula that we’ve constructed. If you haven’t noticed yet, the Psalms don’t abide by any prayer-formula. We need to not look away and act like these parts of prayer aren’t in Scripture, as if we can sing our favorite worship song loud enough and God will be right there as our waiter holding a silver platter. We need to look toward these deep and sometimes disturbing parts of the Psalms. We will certainly need them. Jesus did.
We are a “What have you done for me lately?” culture. A football coach will win the Super Bowl, then get fired two years later. A star player has a breakout year and signs a huge contract, only to get cut or traded when his production falls off or is beset by injury. “What have you done for me lately?” is the engine that drives our culture’s romantic relationships today. People hop from boyfriend to boyfriend or girlfriend to girlfriend because the initial shine has worn off and the butterflies have fallen asleep, but there’s a new shiny person that has entered life who offers these things again. People change out of sexual relationships today as easily as they change outfits. It’s no surprise that we treat God the same way.
I’m not going to lie, the psalms continue to puzzle me and bend me theology in different directions. A psalm like this can feel a slam dunk that God is always going to answer all of your prayers and always bring you victory. But as we read through the entire book of psalms, we know that wasn’t always the case for the very psalmists writing these prayers. We know that many of the psalms are filled with prayers crying out to God in the midst of suffering and asking God why he is so silent.