June 22, 2016
The Psalms are prayers that guide us through the peaks and valleys of life. The power of story in the way we read and process the Psalms is undeniable.
A few people from our Reach family have been brave enough to share snapshots of their own personal stories and how their favorite Psalms played an important role in knowing and loving God more.
When reading Psalms during my life, there were times they rubbed me as a bit dramatic. That changed immediately following my unborn son's death.
After that, I became well acquainted with Psalms in a very real way–Psalm 34 in particular. The beginning of this Psalm invited me to bless the Lord. This was a beautiful thing for me during that time to take the focus off of myself, where it wasn't created to be. I was weary. The Lord knew that. I did not have words of my own, but I agreed and spoke with faith as I read David's words of praise to the Lord.
In v. 7 it says "The Angel of Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them". Oh how sweetly this proved true for me. I felt protected and covered where I was otherwise fragile in my own strength. And v.22 says, "The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned." God, in his mercy, redeemed me as his child when there was room for bitterness, depression and even hate to grow. He gave me refuge in Him.
- Carissa Schuster
It's been almost two years since my best friend ended her own life. I didn't know what to do. I didn't have answers. I was pretty lost. No one could tell me how to process. The summer after she died, we met at our Group's house every Friday night to go over Psalms. One of those was Psalm 23. David is raw and vulnerable, and always processing. He showed so much about grieving, but David always came back to Christ. And that's why I love it so much. When it says, 'though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil.' I needed that then. And I'll probably always need it.
- Macray Jerome
In more recent years, the low points in life have felt a little lower, because of my struggle with depression and anxiety. When I am facing depression, the valley doesn’t feel harder. I just don’t care the way that I should. Numbness sets in. It’s in these times that I struggle to raise my voice in praise and thankfulness. I can’t tell you how many times Psalm 33 has met me there.God is always redeeming (v. 5) and so his people must always be praising and expressing our deep gratitude. I believe that, but I don’t always feel it. However, God’s redeeming work is also upright (v. 4) and done in faithfulness. Our God is committed to us. His eyes are on us. He does not leave us. He is our help and shield (v. 20). His love is steadfast. It does not fail. He finishes what He begins. That truth always pushes me to thankfulness. It reminds me that on the darkest days of struggling, Jesus surrounds me with a steadfast love.
- Zach Hendricks
Even though I grew up in the church during my early years, the notion that God was my treasure–that He was my ultimate goal and pursuit in life–was very alien. When I eventually came back to the faith, of course, I thought of God as being good and worthy of worship, but I never really connected the dots to the fact that everything exists to know God and to show God. He’s not a means to an end (like getting to heaven); God is the end. So while I knew the phrase ‘for the glory of God’ very well and understood it intellectually, I did not really know it.When you really understand God’s undying passion for his own glory, you either find Him entirely egocentric and abandon Him OR you, by His grace, have your eyes opened to the true, objective value of His glory and it becomes your pursuit as well. When that happens, it’s a massive paradigm shift–it changes everything. The soul becomes satisfied only with God and He becomes the object of your pursuit.
A few months ago, I found myself once again discouraged about the pace of my life and fearful that I'd been forgotten. One morning I woke up early feeling nervous and distracted by anxiety. I told God I didn't believe He could meet me in my disappointments but I'd like to see Him try (apparently I am rude at 3 a.m.) The bookmark in my Bible had me reading Psalm 74 that day.
I immediately felt Him speaking peace and strength through it. His sovereignty, power, oversight and love are not quiet. The Psalm showed me that I can claim my position as chosen daughter as I cry out in despair. It reminded me that He meets me in my discouragement and restores His creation, and I'm so thankful for that promise.