“Put on garments of praise for a spirit of heaviness.”
I remember the words on the chalkboard of the missionaries’ home. It was the day I felt heavy and sad. I saw the words, and knew that the missionary-wife had picked up on this fact and offered the silent words as a gentle encouragement.
I struggle with the same thing from time to time, feeling heavy and sad. And I remember one lesson the Lord taught me about prayer this semester.
I was feeling overwhelmed, concerned about decisions, not sure what to do. Every prayer began with, “I feel…” Confused. Lonely. Discouraged. And I don’t quite remember how it happened, but I remember one day being left with the phrase: “Don’t start with ‘I feel’; start with ‘You are’”.
It had the ring of the Holy Spirit in it, so I wrote it at the top of my prayer board, to start talking to God first instead of about myself. And it stayed there for weeks.
You see, the root of my tumultuous feelings is often that I forget who God is. My sin of choice is usually anxiety- a failure to remember that God is sovereign and He is good. And so, when I pray and say, “You’re a good, and all-powerful Father,” it reminds me, simply, that He is just that and that He provides. So what do I have to be anxious about?
Isn’t that what David did in that much-loved Psalm? “the Lord is my shepherd…” A declaration of who God is. “I shall not want”- my response to this character-trait of God.
If I take my eyes off of myself and look deep at the eternal, unchanging one, I find that my problems and feelings lose their significance in light of all He is.
For Lord, You are great– “Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.” -Psalm 24:8
Lord, you are gentle and humble– “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” -Matt. 11:29
Lord, you are near the brokenhearted– “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” -Psalm 34:18
Lord, you are tender– He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. -Isaiah 42:2-3
The praise goes on and on. Provider. Healer. Righteous Judge. Loving
So, dear ones, I don’t know where you are today. But if you’re facing trouble: look up! The great galaxy-creating God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Tell the great I AM who he is and remind your fragile soul in the process.
And it’s a discipline I’m not always consistent with. But when I, heavy and discouraged, set my heart to adore God, I find the burden lifts. He has exchanged the spirit of heaviness for garments of praise. And I know that one day, wearing those very garments, I will dance for joy.
Scripture and songs for the road-
Psalm 103– this is water to my soul for times like these. Who is God? Read it.
You are My Hope– Cory Asbury