Journal Ps 35-36 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)

Scripture: “Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life!  Let them be turned back and disappointed who devise evil against me!  Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away!  Let their way be dark and slippery…Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it!…

 

(verse 11) Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me things I do not know.  They repay me evil for good; my soul is bereft (grieving).

 

But I, when they were sick—I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest.  I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; as one who laments his mother…I bowed down in mourning.”  Excerpts from Ps 35:4-14

 

Observation:  Part of being a healthy Christian is to be open before the Lord about what is going on inside my head…and my heart…out loud.  After all, He knows it anyway…

 

Analysis:  I contend that Psalms and the Psalmist is the example of how a believer is modeled for me to imitate.

 

Here’s James: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working… (James 5:16)

 

Did the Psalmist have sinful thoughts and statements going on?  Yeah, but there is an argument that in prayer, these shouldn’t be stifled.  The popular thought of “Let it all out, get it off your chest…” is a biblical one first—only there is a caveat at the end: “Nevertheless, despite all the grumbling, complaining I am doing, I will trust in You; I will lay these at the foot of the Cross; I will NOT be anxious for I know You and Your purposes;

 

I will praise You in my afflictions…specifically and forever.

 

I look at the Psalmist: Complaining before God with some very specific responses reserved for specific people.  Then, a set of appropriate responses, heartfelt, and demonstrative: Sackcloth, fasting until they got sick; praying until they passed out with sleep; grieving as if he was grieving for family, and mourns.

 

This is not my response.  When I “get it off my chest”, I smile, I say to myself “Whew!  I feel much better…”; I don’t think next, “Ok, where’s the closet that I put my sackcloth in?  Did it come back from the cleaners yet?  Oh, phooey…”

 

The point I must remember is that I CAN empty my heart of all my issues, anxiousness, concerns…anger, grumbling, complaints…even retaliation-type thoughts, etc.  God is good about listening and we are confident he will keep his own council and objectives: “That’s good, son, get it all out.  That’s a good fellow…. now, let’s get back on track: How do you think I want you to react?  What do you think you ought to do that will make me proud?  What have I taught you?”

 

I can’t short-circuit the process.  The process is a necessity for maturity.

 

Prayer: Father, while I want to race to maturity, I can’t on my own.  There are some things that you have ordained to mature me.

Afflictions are one—the refining fire that drives out the impurities of my soul.  Confession, thorough confession is another—that comes with practice because scraping the scales off my hard heart is difficult work.

Nevertheless, my heart is directed to you and you alone, O God of my soul.

Bring revival,

AMEN