“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” The former passage comes from Psalm 116, and it echoes what people have called out for the centuries. In the midst of human helplessness, we’ve called out under a single hope. We trust that despite the visible void betwixt the spiritual and the physical, there is a God who is present, real, and listening to our troubled minds, our endless questions, and our trembling requests for deliverance. When we run to God in prayer, we’re not breaking an impenetrable barrier that separates God and man, though it may seem like the connection between us is a chasm. No, indeed, in a physical sense, we sometimes ask where God is in the vulnerability of sensitive bodies and fragile emotions. What we see is physical. But, it is in our vulnerability that we turn to him for strength; it is where we look past what we see for something more tangible and solid.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” You see, faith is in the calling out, the cries for mercy. Faith is where our spiritual self, the depths of our soul within, reaches out for the Father that we find familiar because, though we cannot see him, we need his presence in our daily lives. The distance from the physical to the spiritual is less a chasm when something happens that touches your heart, and he’s the Father that we run to as our shelter in the storms, the one in whom our faith can rest.
I have a favorite word. I remind myself of this often, as I think it perfectly describes the moment where the void disappears, my heart is unveiled in its resting place, and I recognize that I kneel, astonishingly mortal as I am, before a living and eternal God. Rest. The modern Christian life is just like those of the last 2,000 years of Christians and the Jewish believers who came before them. It seems we often treat God as a person whom we come to and connect with. And, believe it or not, people have done that for thousands of years. You are not alone. You go through life and don’t see or seek God every day; however, your Father is there in the everyday mundane, the frustrations, the celebrations, the tumult, the adventures, and the joys. It’s likely that you’ve gone through times in life where you don’t see God in the grit. You may find yourself in unexpected places today. Rest.
Many modern Christians visit their churches for a pause once a week, feeling a spiritual boost and break from life; meanwhile, they live tumultuous lives the rest of the week. You might need or already have a Sunday morning rest, but have you considered that life was not meant to be lived with a single hallelujah moment a week? The week drags on, you feel empty. Ages of believers have gone through life having strong and weak times of faith, like the ups and downs of driving though a mountain highway. We seek God in the lows, because we ask him to lift us up above it all. We ignore God in the highs, because life is good and we don’t feel we need his deliverance from life. So, like any mountain, you find yourself at the bottom again. The Bible itself is full of humans with stories like yours, and that is where my favorite word falls into today. Rest.
Psalm 116:1-9 takes us through a story. You’ve had a rough day, had something catastrophic happen, had a break in your temporal happiness, and you become a pile of ruins. God knows what’s going on and he cares. This passage speaks to you.
“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘Lord, save me!’ The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”
You might be asking God right now, “Why me? Why this?” And, his ear is turned to you. You are the character in this passage, crying out for mercy. And, God hears you. You are overcome by distress and sorrow. Be it a battle with illness, be it the struggles of parenting, be it a relationship that’s strained, be it fear over finances, be it a literal brush with the grave – God knows you’re overwhelmed by something today. That “something” in your life, that’s drawing you to prayer or drawing you to ask, “Why?” is answered with grace. God is FULL of compassion, and he says to return to your rest. Say this loudly in front of a mirror, and say it as though you mean it, “Return to your rest, MY SOUL, Return! The Lord has been good to me.” God has brought you through so much to this day, and it is because we are seeing and feeling creatures, sometimes we cannot get past seeing the physical things that concern us. But, through it all, God says, your rest is sitting there, waiting for you to return.
Psalm 107:1-9 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. For he has gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south. Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
If you are hungry for rest, calling out for God to deliver you today, he satisfies your grumbling stomach with good things. With rest. All you have to do is return. Talk to God right now, and tell him about what’s going on. Your mountain low that you’re trying to climb out of can’t be conquered without the right gear. Mark 11:23 says, “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”
Prayer and asking God for rest is the greatest weapon you have against the earthly concerns of today. Ephesians 6:13-16 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
Take up your shield of faith. In this day of evil, stand on your solid ground in Christ. In your hunger, ask God for his mercy that satisfies, and rest.